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Keywords:

  • reproduction;
  • Procapra gutturosa;
  • Mongolian gazelle;
  • survival;
  • neonate

Abstract

Mongolian gazelles Procapra gutturosa were observed, hand-captured and radio-monitored in the eastern steppe of Mongolia during 1998–2003 to understand better their reproduction and survival. During early June, 92% (range = 87–96%) of adult (≥ 2 years old) females observed (mean n= 735/year) were pregnant, and nearly all gave birth during a 10-day interval (24 June–3 July) each year. Mean mass of neonate (1–2 days old) calves (mean n= 47/year) was greater for males than for females, and masses were directly correlated with mean monthly temperatures the previous winter (December-April). Survival during the first 10 days of life for 111 radio-marked neonate calves monitored during 2000–03 (n= 9–55/year) was 0.83 and did not seem to vary with birth weight. Also, deaths owing to hypothermia, abandonment, or unknown causes (interval cause-specific mortality rate = 0.16) outnumbered deaths owing to predation (0.02) during this interval. Survival rates were similar during the rest of the year (0.86 for 355 days) when most mortalities were owing to predation (interval mortality rate = 0.12 vs 0.01). Annual survival of calves was 0.71 (95% CI = 0.61–0.82). Gazelle births are highly synchronous, probably to take most advantage of the short summer growing season, and perhaps to avoid deleterious spring weather and to minimize predation. High fecundity and relatively high calf survival, especially during the first weeks of life, support the notion that gazelle populations can recover fairly quickly from demographic catastrophes.