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Wildlife & Fisheries Conservation
Master of Science (M.S.)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
birth weight, litter size, mass, Saiga tatarica mongolica, season, sex, twinning rates
Factors affecting juvenile survival are poorly known in the world’s most northern antelope, the endangered saiga (Saiga tatarica), yet they are fundamental for understanding what drives population change. For saiga neonates monitored in Sharga Nature Reserve, western Mongolia, during 2008–2010, male and single calves were heavier than those of female and twins, respectively. However, there was no significant difference in seasonal and annual survival rate between male and female or singletons and twins. Litter size and birth mass varied among years, and there was a negative relationship between these variables. Multiple regression models suggest that summer precipitation in previous years and spring mean temperature explained inter-annual variations in twinning rate, and mortality was highest during summer. Covariates providing the best model fit included year, litter size, and body weight, suggesting that environmental conditions influence twinning rates and body mass may play a key role in neonate survival rate in the first year. We identified 3 sources of mortality – predation by raptors, foxes (red and corsac, Vulpes vulpes and V. corsac), and lynx (Lynx lynx). Most predation was by raptors, such as golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) and cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus). Our results point to both environmental and biotic factors affecting juvenile survival.
Todd K Fuller