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Long-term capture and handling effects on body condition, reproduction and survival in a semi-aquatic mammal.


ABSTRACT: In long-term individual-based field studies, several parameters need to be assessed repeatedly to fully understand the potential fitness effects on individuals. Often studies only evaluate capture stress that appears in the immediate weeks or breeding season and even long-term studies fail to evaluate the long-term effects of their capture procedures. We investigated effects of long-term repeated capture and handling of individuals in a large semi-aquatic rodent using more than 20 years of monitoring data from a beaver population in Norway. To investigate the effects, we corrected for ecological factors and analysed the importance of total capture and handling events, years of monitoring and deployment of telemetry devices on measures related to body condition, reproduction and survival of individual beavers. Body mass of dominant individuals decreased considerably with number of capture events (107 g per capture), but we found no statistically clear short or long-term effects of capture and handling on survival or other body condition indices. Annual litter size decreased with increasing number of captures among older individuals. Number of captures furthermore negatively affected reproduction in the beginning of the monitoring, but the effect decreased over the years, indicating habituation to repeated capture and handling. By assessing potential impacts on several fitness-related parameters at multiple times, we can secure the welfare of wild animal populations when planning and executing future conservation studies as well as ensure ecologically reliable research data.

SUBMITTER: Mortensen RM 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7578049 | BioStudies | 2020-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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