Do transmitters affect survival and body condition of American beavers Castor canadensis?

Wildlife Biology
By: , and 

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Abstract

One key assumption often inferred with using radio-equipped individuals is that the transmitter has no effect on the metric of interest. To evaluate this assumption, we used a known fate model to assess the effect of transmitter type (i.e. tail-mounted or peritoneal implant) on short-term (one year) survival and a joint live—dead recovery model and results from a mark—recapture study to compare long-term (eight years) survival and body condition of ear-tagged only American beavers Castor canadensis to those equipped with radio transmitters in Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota, USA. Short-term (1-year) survival was not influenced by transmitter type (wi = 0.64). Over the 8-year study period, annual survival was similar between transmitter-equipped beavers (tail-mounted and implant transmitters combined; 0.76; 95% CI = 0.45–0.91) versus ear-tagged only (0.78; 95% CI = 0.45–0.93). Additionally, we found no difference in weight gain (t9 = 0.25, p = 0.80) or tail area (t11 = 1.25, p = 0.24) from spring to summer between the two groups. In contrast, winter weight loss (t22 = - 2.03, p = 0.05) and tail area decrease (t30 = - 3.04, p = 0.01) was greater for transmitterequipped (weight = - 3.09 kg, SE = 0.55; tail area = - 33.71 cm2, SE = 4.80) than ear-tagged only (weight = - 1.80 kg, SE = 0.33; tail area = - 12.38 cm2, SE = 5.13) beavers. Our results generally support the continued use of transmitters on beavers for estimating demographic parameters, although we recommend additional assessments of transmitter effects under different environmental conditions.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Do transmitters affect survival and body condition of American beavers Castor canadensis?
Series title Wildlife Biology
DOI 10.2981/wlb.00160
Volume 22
Issue 3
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Nordic Board for Wildlife Research
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 7 p.
First page 117
Last page 123