Editor Corey Bradshaw
Reproductive history and absence of predators are important determinants of reproductive fitness: the cheetah controversy revisited
Article first published online: 20 SEP 2010
©2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Volume 4, Issue 1, pages 47–54, February 2011
How to Cite
Wachter, B., Thalwitzer, S., Hofer, H., Lonzer, J., Hildebrandt, T. B. and Hermes, R. (2011), Reproductive history and absence of predators are important determinants of reproductive fitness: the cheetah controversy revisited. Conservation Letters, 4: 47–54. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-263X.2010.00142.x
- Issue published online: 5 FEB 2011
- Article first published online: 20 SEP 2010
- Accepted manuscript online: 25 AUG 2010 11:55PM EST
- Received , 30 June 2009, Accepted, 3 August 2010
- re-introduction program;
- reproductive performance;
Re-introduction programs rely on reproductively sound individuals and high offspring survival once captively bred species are released into their natural habitat. Some species involved in captive breeding programs reproduce poorly: one prominent example is the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus). Here we use the cheetah as a case study to test predictions from all current hypotheses explaining this phenomenon by monitoring postemergence cub survival and assessing the reproductive status of free-ranging and captive female cheetahs in Namibia with ultrasonography. We show that reproductive activity and health of cheetah females is determined by reproductive history and age rather than innate rhythms, captive stress, or lack of genetic diversity, and that postemergence cub survival under natural conditions in a predator-free habitat is high. Our results suggest that management practices of captive breeding and re-introduction programs should encourage early reproduction in females to induce long-lasting and healthy reproductive performance. With this practice, re-introduction projects might increase their chances of success.