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Bobcat (Lynx rufus)

Movement and Activity


Movement rates differed between sexes (P = 0.053) and across periods (P = 0.022). However, movement rates did not differ across seasons (P = 0.101). Male bobcats moved at greater rates (364.2 m/hr) than females (332.9 m/hr) and bobcats moved at greater rates during nocturnal (374.3 m/hr) and crepuscular (352.3 m/hr) periods than during diurnal (308.7 m/hr) periods.

Female Bobcat

Activity data were collected throughout the project; however, activity was intensively monitored by Sullivan (1995) and reported in Chamberlain et al. (1998). The following section summarizes those results. During winter, mean percentage activity for males (71%) exceeded (P <0.001) that of females (44%). Activity did not differ between sexes (P = 0.50) during spring. However, activity differed across time (P = 0.04). Bobcats were more active during crepuscular periods (74%) than night (53%, P = 0.01). Midday activity (68%) was not significantly different from night (53%, P = 0.09).

Activity differed over time (P = 0.01) during summer. Bobcats were more active during crepuscular periods (61%) than during the midday (46%, P = 0.03). Activity was not significantly higher during crepuscular than night and midday combined (50%, P = 0.09).

Bobcats were more active during crepuscular periods (61%) than during midday (46%) (P = 0.03). Activity was not higher during crepuscular than night and midday combined (50%, P = 0.09). Activity did not differ across time (P = 0.33) or between sexes (P = 0.90) during the fall. Bobcats were active approximately 50% of the time during fall and displayed greatest activity during evening (61%). When activity data were pooled across season and time, mean percentage activity was 49% and 60% for females and males, respectively.


Previous research has reported male bobcats to move at greater rates than females. Bobcats use a polygynous mating system and are sexually dimorphic, hence males would be expected to exhibit greater movements than females. Indeed, male bobcats on TWMA and GP exhibited greater movement rates than females. Both male and female bobcats were more active during crepuscular periods in spring and summer, consistent with other studies. Further, bobcats moved at greater rates during these periods. Crepuscular peaks in activity may coincide with peaks in lagomorph activity, a primary prey item of bobcats on our study areas and throughout the southeastern United States. In northern areas of their range, bobcats may have greater diurnal movements that coincide with warmer temperature periods in winter. However, we detected no differences in activity between diurnal and nocturnal periods during winter, likely due to mild climatic conditions on TWMA and GP.

Males were considerably more active during winter than females. Males maintain larger home ranges than females and bobcats breed during winter, so male activity may increase during breeding to increase probability of mating. Conversely, low female activity during breeding may be a function of energy conservation during periods of lower prey availability or a strategy to increase mating probabilities.

Because parturition in female bobcats on TWMA and GP predominately occurs during spring and summer, we hypothesized that female activity would be lower than male activity due to responsibilities involved in caring for young. However, we detected no significant differences between activity patterns of males and females with both sexes displaying strong crepuscular patterns. Although not significant, lower observed activity by females during summer may be a function of female bobcats caring for young. Similarities in temporal activity existed between sexes during summer, with both males and females considerably more active during crepuscular than midday periods. This similarity between sexes is likely attributable to extreme summer heat.

Management Implications

High diurnal activity makes bobcats susceptible to incidental harvest by sport hunters. Most bobcat mortalities on TWMA resulted from incidental harvest by deer hunters. Thus, managers must consider this potential harvest and the influence of activity patterns on harvest susceptibility when implementing harvest limits on bobcat populations. Because bobcats are active during diurnal periods, incidental harvest of bobcats may be a useful method to index bobcat populations.