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Factors affecting juvenile survival in African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) in Kruger National Park, South Africa

Authors

  • U. K. Buettner,

    1. Department of Zoology & Entomology, Mammal Research Institute, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
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  • H. T. Davies-Mostert,

    1. Carnivore Conservation Group, Endangered Wildlife Trust, Johannesburg, South Africa
    2. Department of Zoology, Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, University of Oxford, Tubney, Abingdon, UK
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  • J. T. Du Toit,

    1. Department of Zoology & Entomology, Mammal Research Institute, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
    2. Department of Forest, Range, and Wildlife Sciences, Utah State University, Logan, UT, USA
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  • M. G. L. Mills

    1. Department of Zoology & Entomology, Mammal Research Institute, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
    2. Carnivore Conservation Group, Endangered Wildlife Trust, Johannesburg, South Africa
    3. SANParks and Endangered Wildlife Trust, Skukuza, South Africa
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Correspondence
Ursula K. Buettner, Department of Zoology & Entomology, Mammal Research Institute, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa. Email: ursula.verburgt@gmail.com

Abstract

African wild dog Lycaon pictus populations are declining due to persecution as well as habitat destruction and fragmentation. Understanding the natural mechanisms driving population dynamics is important for conservation management as it clarifies natural from human-induced factors. Therefore, this understanding is essential to compensate for disadvantaging ecological factors and successfully apply conservation actions. Juvenile survival is important in driving wild dog population dynamics, and therefore this study investigated the influence of rainfall and pack size on the survival of juveniles up to the age of 12 months. We found that past rainfall significantly influenced pup survival up to 9 months of age, such that pups benefited from preceding dry periods. The positive effects of pack size on juvenile survival only became evident for pups older than 9 months and, despite this delayed Allee effect, we found no evidence of reproductive failure in small packs as compared with larger ones.

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