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European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris)in the region of Braunschweig on its way to the north

Project data

Project leader: Prof. Prof. h.c. Dr. Ursula Siebert
Scientific work: Dr. Gunter Sodeikat
Daniel Tost
Project term: March until August 2014
Sponsorship: Foundation "Stiftung Zukunft Wald".
Cooperations: Forestry Commission Offices of Wolfenbüttel and Unterlüß (Lower Saxony State Forest)

Introduction
The main distribution areas of the vulnerable European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris) in Lower Saxony, Germany, are located in the federal states southern regions. During the 20th century the most important retreat areas of northern Germany were the Harz mountains and the Solling. Now these forested uplands serve as source regions for the wildcats northward recapture of former inhabited regions such as the Deister or the Hildesheimer Wald. During the last few years the wildcat was verified in the region of Braunschweig, i.e. in the Elm and its surrounding small woodlands. First estimates amount up to 12 male and 20 female wildcats within the Elm (Sodeikat and Köglsperger 2012).
In 2012 and 2013 wildcats were genetically verified in further small woodlands. 14 Individuals could be identified (nine female, five male). They were found as follows: Asse: four (two female/two male), Dorm: three (two female/one male), Lappwald: three (two female/one male), Elm: two female, Schieren: one female (Sodeikat et al. 2013).
Due to the results, these woodland-habitats might be important stepping stones for further the distribution of the European wildcat, especially in northern direction towards the Lueneburg Heath.

Cooperations
This project is realized by the Forestry Commission Offices of Wolfenbüttel and Unterlüß (Lower Saxony State Forest) in cooperation with the Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research (ITAW) of the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Germany. The study is financially supported by the foundation "Stiftung Zukunft Wald".

Research Objective
In this study we want to record the wildcat-distribution in east Lower Saxony and further northern woodlands, that have not been taken into account in 2012 and 2013. We will test several woodlands in fragmented landscapes in the northern region of Braunschweig, which are administrated by the Forestry Commission Offices of Wolfenbüttel and Unterlüß. Therefore we will use lure sticks covered with valerian-tincture (Hupe and Simon 2007, Weber 2008). Lured cats rub against the rough wooden sticks and leave behind hair samples which are used for DNA analysis.
The repeated study in Dorm and Lappwald will show whether wildcats are resident in these two forests or not. In addition several small, isolated forests north of the Autobahn A2 will be examined first-time, beginning in the mating season (March) 2014 and finishing in August 2014.
The results will help evaluating biotope structures and further planning of forestry organization. They will also be used to identify corridors in fragmented, open landscapes of east Lower Saxony, used by wildcats to spread northwards into the Lueneburg Heath. Therefore the results may also be considered in future projects of habitat connectivity resp. reconnection.
This study is a continuation of previous monitoring projects in the Elm and its surrounding woodlands in 2010 - 2013 (Sodeikat und Köglsperger 2012, Sodeikat et al. 2013, Tost et al. 2014).

Contact person

Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover
Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research

Bischofsholer Damm 15

30173 Hannover

 

Daniel Tost

Tel.: +49 511 856-7565

E-Mail schreiben

 

Anschrift
Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover
Institute for Wildlife Research
Bischofsholer Damm 15
30173 Hannover
Kontakt
Tel.:+49 511 856-7565
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