• Demography of the giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) in Manu National Park, South-Eastern Peru: Implications for conservation

      Groenendijk, Jessica; Hajek, Frank; Johnson, Paul J.; Macdonald, David W.; Calvimontes, Jorge; Staib, Elke; Schenck, Christof (2014)
      The giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) is an endangered semi-aquatic carnivore of South America. We present findings on the demography of a population inhabiting the floodplain of Manu National Park, south-eastern Peru, arising from 14 annual dry season censuses over a 16 year period. The breeding system of territorial groups, including only a single breeding female with non-reproductive adult ‘helpers’, resulted in a low intrinsic rate of increase (0.03) and a slow recovery from decades of hunting for the pelt trade. This is explained by a combination of factors: (1) physiological traits such as late age at first reproduction and long generation time, (2) a high degree of reproductive skew, (3) small litters produced only once a year, and (4) a 50% mortality between den emergence and age of dispersal, as well as high mortality amongst dispersers (especially males). Female and male giant otters show similar traits with respect to average reproductive life-spans (female 5.4 yrs., male 5.2 yrs.) and average cub productivity (female 6.9, male 6.7 cubs per lifetime); the longest reproductive life spans were 11 and 13 years respectively. Individual reproductive success varied substantially and depended mainly on the duration of dominance tenure in the territory. When breeding females died, the reproductive position in the group was usually occupied by sisters or daughters (n = 11), with immigrant male partners. Male philopatry was not observed. The vulnerability of the Manu giant otter population to anthropogenic disturbance emphasises the importance of effective protection of core lake habitats in particular. Riverine forests are the most endangered ecosystem in the Department of Madre de Dios due to the concentration of gold mining, logging and agricultural activities in floodplains, highlighting the need for a giant otter habitat conservation corridor along the Madre de Dios River.
    • Effects of body size on estimation of mammalian area requirements

      Noonan, Michael J.; Fleming, Christen H.; Tucker, Marlee A.; Kays, Roland; Harrison, Autumn-Lynn; Crofoot, Margaret C.; Abrahms, Briana; Alberts, Susan C.; Ali, Abdullahi H.; Altmann, Jeanne; et al. (2020)
      Accurately quantifying species’ area requirements is a prerequisite for effective area‐based conservation. This typically involves collecting tracking data on species of interest and then conducting home‐range analyses. Problematically, autocorrelation in tracking data can result in space needs being severely underestimated. Based on the previous work, we hypothesized the magnitude of underestimation varies with body mass, a relationship that could have serious conservation implications. To evaluate this hypothesis for terrestrial mammals, we estimated home‐range areas with global positioning system (GPS) locations from 757 individuals across 61 globally distributed mammalian species with body masses ranging from 0.4 to 4000 kg. We then applied block cross‐validation to quantify bias in empirical home‐range estimates. Area requirements of mammals <10 kg were underestimated by a mean approximately15%, and species weighing approximately100 kg were underestimated by approximately50% on average. Thus, we found area estimation was subject to autocorrelation‐induced bias that was worse for large species. Combined with the fact that extinction risk increases as body mass increases, the allometric scaling of bias we observed suggests the most threatened species are also likely to be those with the least accurate home‐range estimates. As a correction, we tested whether data thinning or autocorrelation‐informed home‐range estimation minimized the scaling effect of autocorrelation on area estimates. Data thinning required an approximately93% data loss to achieve statistical independence with 95% confidence and was, therefore, not a viable solution. In contrast, autocorrelation‐informed home‐range estimation resulted in consistently accurate estimates irrespective of mass. When relating body mass to home range size, we detected that correcting for autocorrelation resulted in a scaling exponent significantly >1, meaning the scaling of the relationship changed substantially at the upper end of the mass spectrum.
    • Giant otters: using knowledge of life history for conservation

      Groenendijk, Jessica; Hajek, Frank; Johnson, Paul; Macdonald, David W.; Macdonald, David W.; Newman, Chris; Harrington, Lauren A. (Oxford University PressOxford, UK, 2017)
    • Male European badger churrs: Insights into call function and motivational basis

      Charlton, Benjamin D.; Newman, Chris; Macdonald, David W.; Buesching, Christina D. (2020)
      Determining the contexts of emission and information content of vocal signals can yield insights into the function of different call types, and remains an important step towards understanding the diversification of mammalian vocal repertoires. In this study, we used infra-red video cameras and remote audio recorders to document seasonal and contextual variation in male European badger (Meles meles) churr production over a 24-month period, and acoustic analysis based on source-filter theory to examine whether churr acoustic structure varies according to the caller’s arousal state and identity….