Harvest and group effects on pup survival in a cooperative breeder

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
By: , and 

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Abstract

Recruitment in cooperative breeders can be negatively affected by changes in group size and composition. The majority of cooperative breeding studies have not evaluated human harvest; therefore, the effects of recurring annual harvest and group characteristics on survival of young are poorly understood. We evaluated how harvest and groups affect pup survival using genetic sampling and pedigrees for grey wolves in North America. We hypothesized that harvest reduces pup survival because of (i) reduced group size, (ii) increased breeder turnover and/or (iii) reduced number of female helpers. Alternatively, harvest may increase pup survival possibly due to increased per capita food availability or it could be compensatory with other forms of mortality. Harvest appeared to be additive because it reduced both pup survival and group size. In addition to harvest, turnover of breeding males and the presence of older, non-breeding males also reduced pup survival. Large groups and breeder stability increased pup survival when there was harvest, however. Inferences about the effect of harvest on recruitment require knowledge of harvest rate of young as well as the indirect effects associated with changes in group size and composition, as we show. The number of young harvested is a poor measure of the effect of harvest on recruitment in cooperative breeders.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Harvest and group effects on pup survival in a cooperative breeder
Series title Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
DOI 10.1098/rspb.2017.0580
Volume 284
Issue 1855
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher The Royal Society Publishing
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Seattle
Description Article 20170580