Demography of giraffe in the fragmented Tarangire Ecosystem

Documenting whether variation in demographic parameters such as births, deaths, and movement exists, and how temporal and spatial environmental variability influences demography, is critical to understanding and affecting changes in animal populations. Natural populations often exhibit variation in demographic parameters, and while the examination of temporal variation has long been a central theme in population ecology, spatial variation among or within populations of the same species has received much less attention. Although the vast majority of the world's ungulate species live in the tropics and sub-tropics, few studies have investigated the demography of large, tropical herbivores. Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) are also believed to be declining rapidly, as their habitat throughout Africa has been lost and fragmented, thus the fragmented Tarangire Ecosystem in Tanzania was representative of much of the remaining landscape for these iconic megaherbivores. The goal of this study was to fill this knowledge gap by examining whether spatial variation in demography of giraffe existed in a fragmented ecosystem, and how key demographic parameters of reproduction, adult and juvenile survival, and movements of a large tropical ungulate were affected by spatial variation in land use, poaching (illegal hunting), and predation. I also assessed the source-sink structure of the study area and examined the implications of sub-population demography and movements for metapopulation dynamics. Finally, I examined temporal seasonal variation in reproduction and calf survival, and whether observed patterns fit specific theories of synchronous and asynchronous reproduction.

Last Updated
January 26, 2021
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