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Efficient use of harvest data: a size‐class‐structured integrated population model for exploited populations

Abstract : Many animal populations are subject to hunting or fishing in the wild. Detailed knowledge of demographic parameters (e.g. survival, reproduction) and temporal dynamics of such populations is crucial for sustainable management. Despite their relevance for management decisions, structure and size of exploited populations are often not known, and data limited. Recently, joint analysis of different types of demographic data, such as population counts, reproductive data and capture-mark-recapture data, within integrated population models (IPMs) has gained much popularity as it may allow estimating population size and structure, as well as key demographic rates, while fully accounting for uncertainty. IPMs built so far for exploited populations have typically been built as age-structured population models. However, the age of harvested individuals is usually difficult and/or costly to assess and therefore often not available. Here, we introduce an IPM structured by body size classes, which allows making efficient use of data commonly available in exploited populations for which accurate information on age is often missing. The model jointly analyzes size-at-harvest data, capture-mark-recapture-recovery data and reproduction data from necropsies, and we illustrate its applicability in a case study involving heavily hunted wild boar. This species has increased in abundance over the last decades despite intense harvest, and the IPM analysis provides insights into the roles of natural mortality, body growth, maturation schedules and reproductive output in compensating for the loss of individuals to hunting. Early maturation and high reproductive output contributed to wild boar population persistence despite a strong hunting pressure. We thus demonstrate the potential of size-class-structured IPMs as tools to investigate the dynamics of exploited populations with limited information on age, and highlight both the applicability of this framework to other species and its potential for follow-up analyses highly relevant to management.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03282130
Contributor : Marlène Gamelon <>
Submitted on : Thursday, July 8, 2021 - 5:12:32 PM
Last modification on : Monday, August 9, 2021 - 11:06:03 AM

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Marlène Gamelon, Chloé Nater, Éric Baubet, Aurélien Besnard, Laura Touzot, et al.. Efficient use of harvest data: a size‐class‐structured integrated population model for exploited populations. Ecography, Wiley, In press, ⟨10.1111/ecog.05738⟩. ⟨hal-03282130⟩

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