Genetics Working Group

CElynx is a consortium of scientific institutions working on a harmonized genetic monitoring of Central European lynx populations

© Laurent Geslin

Reintroduced populations of lynx in Central Europe overall show overall moderate levels of genetic diversity and a higher level of inbreeding compared to other established wild populations. It is therefore crucial to include genetic factors in management plans for further lynx reintroductions to ensure their long-term viability.

Genetic monitoring is important for all small, reintroduced, isolated, and fragmented populations, and for those that went through a serious historic bottleneck. In other words: for all European lynx populations. In particular, isolated reintroduced populations do not appear to be (genetically) viable in the foreseeable future, so they will need short- to long-term genetic management. All reintroduced lynx populations in Central and Western Europe south of the German Harz mountains are considered part of the Carpathian lynx evolutionary significant unit (ESU). All these populations should be genetically monitored and managed to minimise the loss of genetic diversity. To provide the necessary information, a lynx genetic working group, the CElynx Consortium, was formed, currently represented by members from laboratories involved in genetic research on the Eurasian lynx from Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Switzerland.

The group has the following goals:

  • Standardize genetic marker systems for harmonized trans-border genetic lynx monitoring. 
  • Provide high standard genetic analyses that support the national lynx monitoring of the CElynx member countries. 
  • Perform rigorous scientific assessment of the lynx recolonization process, particularly following the various reintroduced populations.
  • Develop an (assisted) metapopulation management system for assessing and recommending the exchange of animals between reintroduced subpopulations and the founding of additional stepping stones.
  • Propose genetically informed management scenarios for the future of the subpopulations.
  • Advise the breeding programs of EAZA and DWV on selection of animals for the captive breeding program to produce animals for reintroductions or reinforcements.

Cooperate on scientific studies and specific methodologies. This enables CElynx members to use a broad spectrum of up-to-date genetic methodologies.


Dr. Christine Breitenmoser-Würsten, KORA Foundation, IUCN SSC Cat Specialist Group, Switzerland:

© Laurent Geslin