Reproductive seasonality and rate of increase of wild sambar deer (Rusa unicolor) in a new environment, Victoria, Australia

Watter, K. and Thomas, E. and White, N. and Finch, N. and Murray, P. J. ORCID: (2020) Reproductive seasonality and rate of increase of wild sambar deer (Rusa unicolor) in a new environment, Victoria, Australia. Animal Reproduction Science, 223:106630. pp. 1-11. ISSN 0378-4320


Sambar (Rusa unicolor) are the most numerous and rapidly expanding of Australia’s six introduced deer species, however, there is little information about the reproductive biology of sambar deer in their natural habitat. To better predict and manage wild sambar populations in Australia it is important to understand their reproductive seasonality and rate of population growth. From results of the present study, there is reporting of field estimates of age at first breeding, reproductive lifespan, juvenile survival, adult bodyweights and fecundity to derive estimates of the current and intrinsic rates of increase for sambar in Victoria, Australia. Mean age of first reproduction was estimated to be 1.8 years, approximately 80 % of hinds calved between April and August, juvenile survival was estimated as 0.81 and age of last reproduction 12.75 years. Seasonality of reproduction is apparently compressed at 36° latitude compared to sambar at the equator indicating a response to photoperiod. Demographic data were used to estimate the current rate of growth of the Victorian population using the two stage Lotke-Euler equation and age-specific schedules of survival and fecundity in a lifetable. These estimates of r were 0.21 and 0.14, respectively, inferring annual rates of population increase of 24 % and 15 %. These data are in the context of a population which, even though there is a marked harvesting, is reportedly growing and dispersing northwards. Suggestions for how this information can inform management decisions directed at the conservation for sustainable use and/or population reduction in Australia are made.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2021 03:28
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2021 00:17
Uncontrolled Keywords: Demographics, Reproduction, Population, Cervidae Conservation, Utilization
Fields of Research (2008): 06 Biological Sciences > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology
06 Biological Sciences > 0608 Zoology > 060806 Animal Physiological Ecology
Fields of Research (2020): 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310903 Animal developmental and reproductive biology
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310301 Behavioural ecology
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310907 Animal physiological ecology
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1806 Terrestrial systems and management > 180699 Terrestrial systems and management not elsewhere classified
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1806 Terrestrial systems and management > 180606 Terrestrial biodiversity
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