Decline in body condition and high drought mortality limit the spread of wild chital deer in north-east Queensland, Australia

Watter, Kurt and Baxter, Greg and Brennan, Michael and Pople, Anthony and Murray, Peter ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1143-1706 (2019) Decline in body condition and high drought mortality limit the spread of wild chital deer in north-east Queensland, Australia. Rangeland Journal, 41 (4). pp. 293-299. ISSN 1036-9872


Abstract

Chital deer (Axis axis) were introduced to the Burdekin district of northern Queensland, Australia in 1886. Compared with most successful ungulate introductions they have been slow to expand their distribution and increase in abundance (Moriarty 2004). In this study we consider the possibility that forage shortages caused by periodic droughts have caused sufficient mortalities to limit the increase and spread of chital in the region. The Burdekin district experiences fluctuations in forage according to seasonal rainfall as well as multi-year droughts. This study recorded the decline in body condition, measured as kidney fat index (KFI) and bone marrow fat (BMF), over the wet and dry seasons of two successive years in two chital deer populations during a period when annual rainfall was ~40% below average. We relate the falls in mean KFI from ~45–15%, and mean BMF from ~80–50% to the surveyed decline in chital populations of ~80%. The extent of the decline implies increased mortalities in all age classes as well as reduced reproductive output. We propose that it is likely that chital populations have experienced several such drought mortality events since the 1890s which have contributed to their limited spread.


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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: 17 Feb 2021 05:49
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2021 04:03
Uncontrolled Keywords: Axis axis, bone marrow fat, kidney fat index
Fields of Research (2008): 06 Biological Sciences > 0602 Ecology > 060208 Terrestrial Ecology
05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management
Fields of Research (2020): 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310914 Vertebrate biology
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310308 Terrestrial ecology
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified
D Environment > 96 Environment > 9604 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species > 960499 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1806 Terrestrial systems and management > 180602 Control of pests, diseases and exotic species in terrestrial environments
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1806 Terrestrial systems and management > 180699 Terrestrial systems and management not elsewhere classified
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1071/RJ18113
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/41293

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