Survival on the ark: life-history trends in captive parrots

Authors

Errata

This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Erratum Volume 16, Issue 5, 595, Article first published online: 22 October 2013

  • Editor: Iain Gordon

  • Associate Editor: Iain Gordon

?Anna M. Young, Department of Biology, MSC 3AF, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA?Tel: +1 575 646 4863; Fax: +1 575 646 5665?Email: annay@nmsu.edu

Abstract

Members of the order Psittaciformes (parrots and cockatoos) are among the most long-lived and endangered avian species. Comprehensive data on lifespan and breeding are critical to setting conservation priorities, parameterizing population viability models, and managing captive and wild populations. To meet these needs, we analyzed 83 212 life-history records of captive birds from the International Species Information System (ISIS) and calculated lifespan and breeding parameters for 260 species of parrots (71% of extant species). Species varied widely in lifespan, with larger species generally living longer than smaller ones. The highest maximum lifespan recorded was 92 years in Cacatua moluccensis, but only 11 other species had a maximum lifespan over 50 years. Our data indicate that while some captive individuals are capable of reaching extraordinary ages, median lifespans are generally shorter than widely assumed, albeit with some increase seen in birds presently held in zoos. Species that lived longer and bred later in life tended to be more threatened according to IUCN classifications. We documented several individuals of multiple species that were able to breed for more than two decades, but the majority of clades examined had much shorter active reproduction periods. Post-breeding periods were surprisingly long and in many cases surpassed the duration of active breeding. Our results demonstrate the value of the ISIS database to estimate life-history data for an at-risk taxon that is difficult to study in the wild, and provide life-history data that is crucial for predictive modeling of future species endangerment and proactively management of captive populations of parrots.

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