Variation in coat colour within mammal species is of enduring interest, likely because of its potential to be either adaptive or maladaptive. Coat colour in the genus Lynx tends to be stable, with little variation within species compared to that of other felids. Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) have coats that typically are silver grayish in winter and reddish brown in summer with dark spots, and black hairs on the tips of their tails and ears. A rare pallid colourmorph is occasionally observed, suggestive of partial albinism. Here, I report the first record of a melanistic Canada lynx. The individual was photographed during summer in the Yukon (Canada). It had a black coat containing whitish gray guard hairs throughout, as well as whitish gray hairs in the facial ruff and the rostrum and dorsal regions. There are only a small number of records of coat colour polymorphisms in the genus Lynx. The adaptive significance of melanism in lynx is unknown, but the loss of camouflage when hunting during winter is likely maladaptive.
I am indebted to Heather Kennedy, Jazzmyne Stuckey, and Bruce Bennett for information on this lynx sighting. I also thank Charley Krebs, Stan Boutin, Alice Kenney, Dennis Murray, Mark O’Donoghue, Garth Mowat, and Brian Slough for discussion on coat colour in lynx.
Author contributions: All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.
Research funding: None declared.
Conflict of interest statement: The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding this article.
Research ethics: No animals were handled or disturbed during this work.
Boutin, S., Krebs, C.J., Boonstra, R., Dale, M.R.T., Hannon, S.J., Martin, K., Sinclair, A.R.E., Smith, J.N.M., Turkington, R., Blower, M., et al.. (1995). Population changes of the vertebrate community during a snowshoe hare cycle in Canada’s boreal forest. Oikos 74: 69–80, https://doi.org/10.2307/3545676.Search in Google Scholar
Caro, T. (2005). The adaptive significance of coloration in mammals. Bioscience 55: 125–136, https://doi.org/10.1641/0006-3568(2005)055[0125:tasoci]2.0.co;2.10.1641/0006-3568(2005)055[0125:TASOCI]2.0.CO;2Search in Google Scholar
Corá, D.H., Marocco, J.C., Favretto, M.A., JuniorOnghero, O., and Ticiani, D. (2021). New record of melanism in southern tigrina Leopardus guttulus (Carnivora, Felidae): a recently recognized and threatened species. Rev. Biol. Neotrop. (J. Neotrop. Biol.) 18: 77–82.Search in Google Scholar
Darul, R., Gavashelishvili, A., Saveljev, A.P., Seryodkin, I.V., Linnell, J.D.C., Okarma, H., Bagrade, G., Ornicans, A., Ozolins, J., Männil, P., et al.. (2022). Coat polymorphism in Eurasian lynx: adaptation to environment or phylogeographic legacy. J. Mamm. Evol. 29: 51–62, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10914-021-09580-7.Search in Google Scholar
Elzirik, E., Yuhki, N., Johnson, W.E., Menotti-Raymond, M., Hannah, S.S., and O’Brien, S.J. (2003). Molecular genetics and evolution of melanism in the cat family. Curr. Biol. 13: 448–453, https://doi.org/10.1016/s0960-9822(03)00128-3.Search in Google Scholar
Gipson, P.S., Bangs, E.E., Bailey, T.N., Boyd, D.K., Cluff, H.D., Smith, D.W., and Jiminez, M.D. (2002). Color patterns among wolves in western North America. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 30: 821–830.Search in Google Scholar
Graipel, M.E., Bogoni, J.A., Giehl, E.L.H., Cerezer, F.O., Caceres, N.C., and Eizirik, E. (2019). Melanism evolution in the cat family is influenced by intraspecific communication under low visibility. PLoS One 14: e0226136, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0226136.Search in Google Scholar
Hutchinson, J.T. and Hutchinson, T. (2000). Observation of a melanistic bobcat in the Ocala National Forest. Fla. Field Nat. 28: 25–26.Search in Google Scholar
Jung, T.S. and Slough, B.G. (2012). Isabelline coloration in American red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) from the Yukon. Northwest. Nat. 93: 163–164, https://doi.org/10.1898/nwn12-07.1.Search in Google Scholar
Klinka, D.R. and Reimchen, T.E. (2009). Adaptive coat colour polymorphism in the Kermode bear of coastal British Columbia. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 98: 479–488, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1095-8312.2009.01306.x.Search in Google Scholar
Landis, M.B., Candisani, L., Munhoes, L.P., Gebin, J.C.Z., Rezende, F., de Jesus, M.M.F., Medici, E.P., and de Barros Ferraz, K.M.P.M. (2020). First record of albino lowland tapirs (Tapirus terrestris Linnaeus 1758) in an important Brazilian Atlantic Forest hotspot. Mammalia 84: 601–604, https://doi.org/10.1515/mammalia-2019-0084.Search in Google Scholar
Lewis, T., Roffler, G., Crupi, A., Maraj, R., and Barten, N. (2020). Unraveling the mystery of the glacier bear: genetic population structure of black bears (Ursus americanus) within the range of a rare pelage type. Ecol. Evol. 10: 7654–7668, https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.6490.Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central
McAlpine, D. (2021). Further occurrences of melanism in a northern, peripheral, population of Bobcat (Lynx rufus). Can. Field Nat. 135: 52–57, https://doi.org/10.22621/cfn.v135i1.2449.Search in Google Scholar
Mooring, M.S., Eppert, A.A., and Botts, R.T. (2020). Natural selection of melanism in Costa Rican jaguar and oncilla: a test of Gloger’s rule and the temporal segregation hypothesis. Trop. Conserv. Sci. 13: 1–15, https://doi.org/10.1177/1940082920910364.Search in Google Scholar
Musiani, M., Leonard, J.A., Cluff, H.D., Gates, C.C., Mariani, S., Paquet, P.C., Vilà, C., and Wayne, R.K. (2007). Differentiation of tundra/taiga and boreal coniferous forest wolves: genetics, coat colour and association with migratory caribou. Mol. Ecol. 16: 4149–4170, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-294x.2007.03458.x.Search in Google Scholar
Peers, M.J.L., Majchrzak, Y.N., Menzies, A.K., Studd, E.K., Bastille-Rousseau, G., Boonstra, R., Humphries, M., Jung, T.S., Kenney, A.J., Krebs, C.J., et al.. (2020). Climate change increases predation risk for a keystone species of the boreal forest. Nat. Clim. Change 10: 1149–1153, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-020-00908-4.Search in Google Scholar
Schneider, A., Henegar, C., Day, K., Absher, D., Napolitano, C., Silveira, L., David, V.A., O’Brien, S.J., Menottii-Raymond, M., Barsh, G.S., et al.. (2015). Recurrent evolution of melanism in South American felids. PLoS Genet. 10: e1004892, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1004892.Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central
Silva, L.G., De Oliveira, T.G., Kasper, C.B., Cherem, J.J., Moraes, E.A., Paviolo, A., and Eizirik, E. (2016). Biogeography of polymorphic phenotypes: mapping and ecological modellig of coat colour variants in an elusive Neotropical cat, the jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi). J. Zool. 299: 295–303, https://doi.org/10.1111/jzo.12358.Search in Google Scholar
Silva, L.G., Kawnishi, K., Henschel, P., Kittle, A., Sanei, A., Reebin, A., Miquelle, D., Stein, A.B., Watson, A., Kekule, L.B., et al.. (2017). Mapping black panthers: macroecological modeling of melanism in leopards (Panthera pardus). PLoS One 12: e0170378, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0170378.Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central
Strong, W.L. and Jung, T.S. (2012). Stand-level attributes of snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) habitat in a post-fire trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides) chronosequence in central Yukon. Can. Field Nat. 126: 295–305, https://doi.org/10.22621/cfn.v126i4.1375.Search in Google Scholar
Thomas, J.P., Reid, M.L., Barclay, R.M.R., and Jung, T.S. (2019). Salvage logging after an insect outbreak reduces occupancy by snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) and their primary predators. Glob. Ecol. Conserv. 17: e00562, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2019.e00562.Search in Google Scholar
Tischendorf, J.W. and McAlpine, D.F. (1995). A melanistic bobcat from outside Florida. Fla. Field Nat. 23: 13–14.Search in Google Scholar
Zafar-Ul Islam, M., Boug, A., Shehri, A., and Silva, L.G. (2019). Geographic distribution patterns of melanistic Arabian wolves, Canis lupus arabs (Pocock), in Saudi Arabia (Mammalia: Carnivora). Zool. Middle East 65: 95–103, https://doi.org/10.1080/09397140.2019.1580931.Search in Google Scholar
The online version of this article offers supplementary material (https://doi.org/10.1515/mammalia-2022-0025).
© 2022 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston