Bobcat land tenure system (infographic)

This is about bobcat social organisation. Like most other wild cats, the bobcat basically lives a solitary life occasionally encountering other bobcats within their home range but these meetings are brief. Sometimes there can be ‘gatherings’ and on one occasion and anecdotal account tells us that 11 individuals were in one “drove”. In general, the only prolonged association between bobcats is when a female raises her offspring.

Although there are reports of pairs of bobcats outside of the breeding season forming a loose but persistent bond. And there appears to be a certain amount of social tolerance on occasions because adult males have been seen to share a resting site during bad weather.

Bobcat social organisation - land tenure system
Bobcat social organisation – land tenure system. Infographic by MikeB at PoC.
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The infographic above is a representational diagram of how bobcats occupy their territory. And, in line, with other wild cat species, the male bobcat home range is larger than those of females and it encompasses female home ranges.

Although, there is an overlap sometimes, the overlapping of home ranges and the number of female ranges encompassed by male ranges is very variable. There may be one to several female home ranges within the male’s.

In a Californian study there was a good degree of overlap between both male and female home ranges.

As mentioned, there is a great degree of variability because the bobcat lives in a wide range of habitats resulting in an equally wide range of prey densities. This impacts upon their land tenure system and social organisation. More prey equates to smaller home ranges.

There is a wide variation in the size of home ranges. For example, female bobcats in southern California occupied 60 ha per individual. In comparison, individual male bobcats in upstate New York liked occupy a much larger area of 32,570 ha.

Typically, males have ranges that are 2-3 times larger than those of females. And also, home ranges of bobcats in northern and western parts of the United States are normally larger than those in the south.

This is probably linked to climate as the warmer climate provides a more consistent prey density which allows bobcats to live in smaller areas. A good example is the 4.9 km² home range of male bobcats of the hardwood forests of southern Louisiana where females occupy 0.9 km²; dramatically smaller than in the north.

A south-central Florida study found that the average home range size for males was 25.5 km² and for females it was 14.5 km².

The largest home ranges are found at the northern limits of the bobcat’s distribution where, in the Adirondacks, male home ranges averaged 325 km² and females occupied a 6 km².

Source: Wild Cats of the World by the Sunquists. This is published in 2002. Things may have changed slightly since. However, the general MO of bobcats in terms of territorial rights holds true across the generations.

‘MO’ – modus operandi!

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