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Seasonal mortality in zoo ruminants


Carisch, Lea; Müller, Dennis W H; Hatt, Jean-Michel; Bingaman Lackey, Laurie; Rensch, E Eberhard; Clauss, Marcus; Zerbe, Philipp (2017). Seasonal mortality in zoo ruminants. Zoo Biology, 36(1):74-86.

Abstract

While seasonality has often been investigated with respect to reproduction, seasonality of mortality has received less attention. We investigated whether a seasonal signal of mortality exists in wild ruminants kept in zoos, using data from 60,591 individuals of 88 species. We quantified the mortality in the 3 consecutive months with the highest above-baseline mortality (3 MM). 3MM was not related to relative life expectancy of species, indicating that seasonal mortality does not necessarily impact husbandry success. Although 3MM was mainly observed in autumn/winter months, there was no evidence for an expected negative relationship with the latitude of the species’ natural habitat and no positive relationship between 3MM and the mean temperature in that habitat, indicating no evidence for species from lower latitudes/warmer climates being more susceptible to seasonal mortality under zoo conditions. 3MM was related to reproductive biology, with seasonally reproducing species also displaying more seasonal mortality. This pattern differed between groups: In cervids, the onset of seasonal mortality appeared linked to the onset of rut in both sexes. This was less evident in bovids, where in a number of species (especially caprids), the onset of female seasonal mortality was linked to the lambing period. While showing that the origin of a species from warmer climate zones does not constrain husbandry success in ruminants in terms of an increased seasonal mortality, the results suggest that husbandry measures aimed at protecting females from rutting males are important, especially in cervids.

Abstract

While seasonality has often been investigated with respect to reproduction, seasonality of mortality has received less attention. We investigated whether a seasonal signal of mortality exists in wild ruminants kept in zoos, using data from 60,591 individuals of 88 species. We quantified the mortality in the 3 consecutive months with the highest above-baseline mortality (3 MM). 3MM was not related to relative life expectancy of species, indicating that seasonal mortality does not necessarily impact husbandry success. Although 3MM was mainly observed in autumn/winter months, there was no evidence for an expected negative relationship with the latitude of the species’ natural habitat and no positive relationship between 3MM and the mean temperature in that habitat, indicating no evidence for species from lower latitudes/warmer climates being more susceptible to seasonal mortality under zoo conditions. 3MM was related to reproductive biology, with seasonally reproducing species also displaying more seasonal mortality. This pattern differed between groups: In cervids, the onset of seasonal mortality appeared linked to the onset of rut in both sexes. This was less evident in bovids, where in a number of species (especially caprids), the onset of female seasonal mortality was linked to the lambing period. While showing that the origin of a species from warmer climate zones does not constrain husbandry success in ruminants in terms of an increased seasonal mortality, the results suggest that husbandry measures aimed at protecting females from rutting males are important, especially in cervids.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Department of Small Animals
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
630 Agriculture
Uncontrolled Keywords:climate; husbandry; mortality; reproduction; ruminant; seasonality
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:23 Feb 2017 12:36
Last Modified:03 Nov 2017 21:01
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0733-3188
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/zoo.21337
PubMed ID:27862242

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