A demo-genetic analysis of a small reintroduced carnivore population: The otter (Lutra lutra) in the Netherlands

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Abstract

Assessing the viability of reintroduced animal populations is a complicated task. Reintroductions are usually carried out with a small number of individuals, thereby, limiting the possibilities for monitoring because of the possible negative effects of intensive monitoring on survival and reproduction. Moreover, reintroduction studies are part of a socioeconomic interplay of forces, thereby, also limiting monitoring possibilities. Also, knowledge of population demography and abundance can be incomplete or unattainable. Here, we illustrate how we combined traditional telemetry and novel non-invasive genetic methodology to construct a detailed life table of a small reintroduced otter population in The Netherlands. Combining an appropriate capture-mark-recapture framework with a matrix modelling approach provides, in general, useful insights for such populations. The data indicated that (i) male survival is lower than female survival, (ii) the reintroduced population is currently growing (estimated λ=1.26: range [1.06, 1.42]) and seems viable, (iii) increasing adult survival is currently the critical stage at which efforts of field managers should concentrate, and (iv) the modelling framework allowed us to determine the boundary conditions for the vital rates under which the population would go extinct. The applied approach directs at measurements that help field managers to implement the right conservation strategy after reintroductions. Copyright © 2011 Maelle Seignobosc et al.

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Seignobosc, M., Hemerik, L., & Koelewijn, H. P. (2011). A demo-genetic analysis of a small reintroduced carnivore population: The otter (Lutra lutra) in the Netherlands. International Journal of Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1155/2011/870853

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