Pedigree Reconstruction Sheds Light on the Mating System and Social Dynamics of Urban Bobcats (Lynx rufus)
Wildlife pedigrees are crucial to addressing a broad range of fundamental ecological and evolutionary questions related to population dynamics, mating systems, trait heritability, and inbreeding levels. Pedigree analyses also have important implications for the conservation and management of threatened species. In this study, we reconstructed a multigenerational pedigree for 196 urban bobcats (Lynx rufus) sampled from 1996–2015 in the Simi Hills of southern California using 21 microsatellite loci. We determined that both sexes exhibit moderate to high mate fidelity between breeding seasons, but did not detect multiple paternity among litters, which adds support to the long-standing hypothesis that bobcats are polygynous within breeding seasons. Our results shed light on the social dynamics and mating system of an elusive, solitary mesopredator and will provide an invaluable tool for future research related to spatial social organization, trait heritability, and mating patterns in this population.