Post-weaning survival in kangaroos is high and constant until senescence: Implications for population dynamics

Rachel Bergeron*, Gabriel Pigeon, David M. Forsyth, Wendy J. King, Marco Festa-Bianchet

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Large herbivores typically have consistently high prime-aged adult survival and lower, more variable, juvenile, and senescent survival. Many kangaroo populations undergo greater fluctuations in density compared with other large herbivores, but age- and sex-specific survival of kangaroos and their response to environmental variation remain poorly estimated. We used long-term capture–mark–recapture data on 920 individuals to investigate the survival component of eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) population dynamics. Forage availability and population density were monitored quarterly and included as predictors of survival in Bayesian Cormack–Jolly–Seber models. Annual survival probabilities were estimated for five age classes: 0 years (juveniles), 1–2 years (subadults), 3–6 years (prime-aged adults), 7–9 years (presenescent adults), and ≥10 years (senescent adults). Survival of juveniles varied widely during our 12-year study, ranging from 0.07 to 0.90 for females and 0.05–0.92 for males. Subadult survival was 0.80–0.93 for females and 0.75–0.85 for males, while that of prime-aged adults was ≥0.94 for females and ≥0.83 for males, despite large fluctuations in forage and density. The survival of presenescent adults spanned 0.86–0.93 for females and 0.60–0.86 for males. Senescent survival was variable, at 0.49–0.90 for females and 0.49–0.80 for males. Male survival was significantly lower than female survival in prime-aged and presenescent adults, but not in other age classes. Although most of the models supported by Watanabe–Akaike Information Criterion selection included at least one environmental covariate, none of these covariates individually had a discernible effect on survival. Temporal variability in overall survival appeared mostly due to changes in the survival of juvenile and senescent kangaroos. Kangaroo survival patterns are similar to those of ungulates, suggesting a strong role of sex–age structure on population dynamics.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere3963
    JournalEcology
    Volume104
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023

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