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Ecology. 2006 Apr;87(4):1027-37.

Spatiotemporal variation in survival rates: implications for population dynamics of yellow-bellied marmots.

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  • 1Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611-0430, USA.


Spatiotemporal variation in age-specific survival rates can profoundly influence population dynamics, but few studies of vertebrates have thoroughly investigated both spatial and temporal variability in age-specific survival rates. We used 28 years (1976-2003) of capture-mark-recapture (CMR) data from 17 locations to parameterize an age-structured Cormack-Jolly-Seber model, and investigated spatial and temporal variation in age-specific annual survival rates of yellow-bellied marmots (Marmota flaviventris). Survival rates varied both spatially and temporally, with survival of younger animals exhibiting the highest degree of variation. Juvenile survival rates varied from 0.52 +/- 0.05 to 0.78 +/- 0.10 among sites and from 0.15 +/- 0.14 to 0.89 +/- 0.06 over time. Adult survival rates varied from 0.62 +/- 0.09 to 0.80 +/- 0.03 among sites, but did not vary significantly over time. We used reverse-time CMR models to estimate the realized population growth rate (lamda), and to investigate the influence of the observed variation in age-specific survival rates on lamda. The realized growth rate of the population closely covaried with, and was significantly influenced by, spatiotemporal variation in juvenile survival rate. High variability in juvenile survival rates over space and time clearly influenced the dynamics of our study population and is also likely to be an important determinant of the spatiotemporal variation in the population dynamics of other mammals with similar life history characteristics.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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