The demography and dynamics of an expanding, managed African wild dog metapopulation
Davies-Mostert HT., Mills MGL., Macdonald DW.
Long-term demographic data are central for the evaluation of endangered species recovery plans. We present the demography and dynamics of a managed African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) metapopulation in South Africa, based on life histories of 553 individually known animals collected between 1998 and 2006. This metapopulation, distributed across nine sites (and not including Kruger National Park), was established through reintroductions (n= 9 events) and maintained by periodic augmentation (n= 10 events) and translocation (n = 20 events). In total, 66 founders were used to establish subpopulations and mean founder group size was 9.6 animals. The metapopulation grew from 17 individuals in 1998 to a peak of 202 in 2005. Mean annual population density was 3.3 (S.E. 0.44) wild dogs/100 km2, approaching the upper limit of densities reported from unmanaged populations. Mean size of breeding packs was 11.0 (S.E. 0.76), comparable to pack sizes in Kruger National Park (Kruger), the only viable unmanaged population in South Africa. Fecundity was lower than in Kruger - particularly in the older age classes. Pup survival to adulthood was 45% - nearly three times the survival rate for pupsin Kruger. Mean annual population growth rate (λ= 1.08, S.E. 0.13) was higher than in unmanaged populations (range 1.000-1.038), with implications for population viability and management.