Life history and dynamics of a platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) population: four decades of mark-recapture surveys.
ABSTRACT: Knowledge of the life-history and population dynamics of Australia's iconic and evolutionarily distinct platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) remains poor. We marked-recaptured 812 unique platypuses (total 1,622 captures), over four decades (1973-2014) in the Shoalhaven River, Australia. Strong sex-age differences were observed in life-history, including morphology and longevity. Apparent survival of adult females (??=?0.76) were higher than adult males (??=?0.57), as in juveniles: females ??=?0.27, males ??=?0.13. Females were highly likely to remain in the same pool (adult: P?=?0.85, juvenile: P?=?0.88), while residency rates were lower for males (adult: P?=?0.74, juvenile: P?=?0.46). We combined survival, movement and life-histories to develop population viability models and test the impact of a range of life-history parameters. While using estimated apparent survival produced unviable populations (mean population growth rate r?=?-0.23, extinction within 20 years), considering residency rates to adjust survival estimates, indicated more stable populations (r?=?0.004, p?=?0.04 of 100-year extinction). Further sensitivity analyses highlighted adult female survival and overall success of dispersal as most affecting viability. Findings provide robust life-history and viability estimates for a difficult study species. These could support developing large-scale population dynamics models required to underpin a much needed national risk assessment for the platypus, already declining in parts of its current distribution.
Project description:The adult sex ratio (ASR) is a crucial component of the ecological and evolutionary forces shaping the dynamics of a population. Although in many declining populations ASRs have been reported to be skewed, empirical studies exploring the demographic factors shaping ASRs are still rare. In this study of the socially monogamous and sexually dimorphic Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa limosa), we aim to evaluate the sex ratio of chicks at hatch and the subsequent sex-specific survival differences occurring over 3 subsequent life stages. We found that, at hatch, the sex ratio did not deviate from parity. However, the survival of pre-fledged females was 15-30% lower than that of males and the sex bias in survival was higher in low-quality habitat. Additionally, survival of adult females was almost 5% lower than that of adult males. Because survival rates of males and females did not differ during other life-history stages, the ASR in the population was biased toward males. Because females are larger than males, food limitations during development or sex-specific differences in the duration of development may explain the lower survival of female chicks. Differences among adults are less obvious and suggest previously unknown sex-related selection pressures. Irrespective of the underlying causes, by reducing the available number of females in this socially monogamous species, a male-biased ASR is likely to contribute to the ongoing decline of the Dutch godwit population.
Project description:The platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) is an evolutionarily distinct mammal, endemic to Australian freshwaters. Many aspects of its ecology and life-history, including detailed understanding of movements, are poorly known, hampered by its cryptic and mainly nocturnal habits and small numbers. We effectively trialled intraperitoneal implanted acoustic transmitters in nine platypuses in the Severn River (NSW), Australia, as a potential approach for studying movements in this challenging species. We tracked platypus movements over six months, at fine and broad spatial scales, using an array of acoustic sensors. Over six months (March-August 2016), four of five adult platypuses (two females\three males) maintained localized movements (average monthly maximums 0.37?km?±?0.03?sd), while one adult, one sub-adult, and one juvenile (males) moved further: average monthly maxima 1.2?km?±?2.0?sd, 0.9?km?±?0.6?sd, 4.5?km?±?5.9?sd, respectively. The longest recorded movement was by a male adult, covering 11.1?km in three days and travelling a maximum distance of about 13?km between records. Only one implanted animal was not detected immediately after release, indicative of transmission failure rather than an adverse event. High cumulative daily movements (daily 1.9?km?±?0.8?sd) indicated high metabolic requirements, with implications for previous estimates of platypus abundances and carrying capacities, essential for effective conservation. This novel approach offers new avenues to investigate relating to mating, nesting, and intraspecific competition behaviours and their temporal and spatial variation.
Project description:Adult sex ratio (ASR) is a central concept in population demography and breeding system evolution, and has implications for population viability and biodiversity conservation. ASR exhibits immense interspecific variation in wild populations, although the causes of this variation have remained elusive. Using phylogenetic analyses of 187 avian species from 59 families, we show that neither hatching sex ratios nor fledging sex ratios correlate with ASR. However, sex-biased adult mortality is a significant predictor of ASR, and this relationship is robust to 100 alternative phylogenetic hypotheses, and potential ecological and life-history confounds. A significant component of adult mortality bias is sexual selection acting on males, whereas increased reproductive output predicts higher mortality in females. These results provide the most comprehensive insights into ASR variation to date, and suggest that ASR is an outcome of selective processes operating differentially on adult males and females. Therefore, revealing the causes of ASR variation in wild populations is essential for understanding breeding systems and population dynamics.
Project description:Diversity in life history tactics contributes to the persistence of a population because it helps to protect against stochastic environments by varying individuals in space and time. However, some life history tactics may not be accounted for when assessing the demographic viability of a population. One important factor in demographic viability assessments is cohort replacement rate (CRR), which is defined as the number of future adults produced by an adult. We assessed if precocial resident males (<age-3) and adfluvial Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), adults that reside in freshwater their entire lives, contributed offspring to a reintroduced population from 2008 to 2013. We found that 9 ± 5% of offspring with an unassigned parent remained unexplained after accounting for sources of human error. Using grandparentage assignments, we identified 31 precocial resident males and 48 probable adfluvial Chinook salmon produced by anadromous mate pairs from 2007 to 2012. Previously published CRR estimates for the 2007 and 2008 reintroduced adults, based on only anadromous returning adult offspring, were 0.40 and 0.31, respectively. By incorporating adfluvial females, we found CRR estimates increased by 17% (CRR: 0.46) and 13% (CRR: 0.35) for the 2007 and 2008 cohorts, respectively.
Project description:Population dynamics of long-lived vertebrates depend critically on adult survival, yet factors affecting survival and covariation between survival and other vital rates in adults remain poorly examined for many taxonomic groups of long-lived mammals (e.g. actuarial senescence has been examined for only 9 of 34 extant pinniped species using longitudinal data). We used mark-recapture models and data from 2795 Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) pups individually marked at four of five rookeries in southeastern Alaska (SEAK) and resighted for 21 years to examine senescence, annual variability and covariation among life-history traits in this long-lived, sexually dimorphic pinniped. Sexes differed in age of onset (approx. 16-17 and approx. 8-9 years for females and males, respectively), but not rate (-0.047 and -0.046/year of age for females and males) of senescence. Survival of adult males from northern SEAK had greatest annual variability (approx. ±0.30 among years), whereas survival of adult females ranged approximately ±0.10 annually. Positive covariation between male survival and reproductive success was observed. Survival of territorial males was 0.20 higher than that of non-territorial males, resulting in the majority of males alive at oldest ages being territorial.
Project description:Adult survival and longevity in insects are key life-history traits, but their variation between sexes and individuals in natural populations is largely unexplored. Sexual divergence in senescence, the decline in survival with age is also poorly understood. Based on an intensive mark-recapture dataset of the butterfly Polyommatus daphnis, we aimed to assess whether adult survival is age-dependent, and to estimate life span distribution and abundance of males and females using Cormack-Jolly-Seber and Jolly-Seber models. Female survival slightly increased with date of emergence and slightly decreased with age, while male survival considerably declined with age. Mean life span of females (12.7 days) was ~50% higher than that of males (8.5 days), but two times higher if only the oldest 5% of each sex was considered (39 vs.19 days). Abundance of females (358?±?14) and males (359?±?11) was similar, but peak abundance of males preceded that of females by 11 days. Our results suggest that senescence is much more rapid in males than in females in this butterfly, which is in agreement with sexual selection theory. We also conclude that estimating life span distributions provides much more valuable information on the demography of natural populations than simply reporting the mean life span.
Project description:Information on the spatial ecology of reef sharks is critical to understanding life-history patterns, yet gaps remain in our knowledge of how these species move and occupy space. Previous studies have focused on offshore reefs and atolls with little information available on the movement and space use of sharks utilising reef habitats closer to shore. Cross-shelf differences in physical and biological properties of reefs can alter regional ecosystem processes resulting in different movement patterns for resident sharks. Passive acoustic telemetry was used to examine residency, space use and depth use of 40 blacktip reef sharks, Carcharhinus melanopterus, on an inshore reef in Queensland, Australia, and assess temporal or biological influences. All sharks showed strong site-attachment to inshore reefs with residency highest among adult females. Sharks exhibited a sex-based, seasonal pattern in space use where males moved more, occupied more space and explored new areas during the reproductive season, while females utilised the same amount of space throughout the year, but shifted the location of the space used. A positive relationship was also observed between space use and size. There was evidence of seasonal site fidelity and long-distance movement with the coordinated, annual migration of two adult males to the study site during the mating season. Depth use was segregated with some small sharks occupying shallower depths than adults throughout the day and year, most likely as refuge from predation. Results highlight the importance of inshore reef habitats to blacktip reef sharks and provide evidence of connectivity with offshore reefs, at least for adult males.
Project description:In angiosperms, dioecy has arisen in 871-5,000 independent events, distributed in approximately 43% of the flowering families. The reproductive superiority of unisexuals has been the favorite explanation for the evolution of separate sexes. However, in several instances, the observed reproductive performance of unisexuals, if any, does not seem to compensate for the loss of one of the sex functions. The involvement of fitness components not directly associated with reproduction is a plausible hypothesis that has received little attention. Life-history traits recently recognized as predictors of plant performance were compared among males, females, and hermaphrodites of a rare trioecious Opuntia robusta population in the field, using the cladode as the study unit. Cladode mortality by domestic herbivores was common and higher in females and hermaphrodites than in males. Males, females, or both displayed lower shrinkage and higher rates of survival, growth, and reproductive frequency than hermaphrodites. Unisexuals simultaneously outperformed hermaphrodites in demographic traits known to compete for common limiting resources, such as the acceleration of reproductive maturation (progenesis) and survival. A meta-analysis combining the outcomes of each of the analyzed life-history traits revealed a tendency of males (d++ = 1.03) and females (d++ = 0.93) to outperform hermaphrodites in presumably costly demographic options. Clonality is induced by human or domestic animal plant sectioning; and males and females highly exceeded hermaphrodites in their clonality potential by a factor of 8.3 and 5.3, respectively. The performances of unisexuals in the analyzed life-history traits may enhance their reproductive potential in the long run and their clonality potential and could explain the observed increase of unisexuality in the population. Life-history traits can be crucial for the evolution of unisexuality, but their impact appears to be habitat specific and may involve broad ontogenetic changes.
Project description:In contrast to theoretical predictions of even adult sex ratios, males are dominating in many bird populations. Such bias among adults may be critical to population growth and viability. Nevertheless, demographic mechanisms for biased adult sex ratios are still poorly understood. Here, we examined potential demographic mechanisms for the recent dramatic shift from a slight female bias among adult eider ducks (Somateria mollissima) to a male bias (about 65% males) in the Baltic Sea, where the species is currently declining. We analysed a nine-year dataset on offspring sex ratio at hatching based on molecularly sexed ducklings of individually known mothers. Moreover, using demographic data from long-term individual-based capture-recapture records, we investigated how sex-specific survival at different ages after fledgling can modify the adult sex ratio. More specifically, we constructed a stochastic two-sex matrix population model and simulated scenarios of different survival probabilities for males and females. We found that sex ratio at hatching was slightly female-biased (52.8%) and therefore unlikely to explain the observed male bias among adult birds. Our stochastic simulations with higher survival for males than for females revealed that despite a slight female bias at hatching, study populations shifted to a male-biased adult sex ratio (> 60% males) in a few decades. This shift was driven by prime reproductive-age individuals (?5-year-old), with sex-specific survival of younger age classes playing a minor role. Hence, different age classes contributed disproportionally to population dynamics. We argue that an alternative explanation for the observed male dominance among adults-sex-biased dispersal-can be considered redundant and is unlikely, given the ecology of the species. The present study highlights the importance of considering population structure and age-specific vital rates when assessing population dynamics and management targets.
Project description:Breeding propensity, the probability that an animal will attempt to breed each year, is perhaps the least understood demographic process influencing annual fecundity. Breeding propensity is ecologically complex, as associations among a variety of intrinsic and extrinsic factors may interact to affect an animal's breeding decisions. Individuals that opt not to breed can be more difficult to detect than breeders, which can (1) lead to difficulty in estimation of breeding propensity, and (2) bias other demographic parameters. We studied the effects of sex, age, and population reproductive success on the survival and breeding propensity of a migratory shorebird, the piping plover (Charadrius melodus), nesting on the Missouri River. We used a robust design Barker model to estimate true survival and breeding propensity and found survival decreased as birds aged and did so more quickly for males than females. Monthly survival during the breeding season was lower than during migration or the nonbreeding season. Males were less likely to skip breeding (range: 1-17%) than females (range: 3-26%; ?sex = -0.21, 95% CI: -0.38 to -0.21), and both sexes were less likely to return to the breeding grounds following a year of high reproductive success. Birds that returned in a year following relatively high population-wide reproductive output were in poorer condition than following a year with lower reproductive output. Younger adult birds and females were more likely to migrate from the breeding area earlier than older birds and males; however, all birds stayed on the breeding grounds longer when nest survival was low, presumably because of renesting attempts. Piping plovers used a variety of environmental and demographic cues to inform their reproduction, employing strategies that could maximize fitness on average. Our results support the "disposable soma" theory of aging and follow with predictions from life history theory, exhibiting the intimate connections among the core ecological concepts of senescence, carryover effects, and life history.