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Variation in survival rates for the alpine marmot (Marmota marmota): effects of sex, age, year, and climatic factors

Abstract : We examined variation in annual survival rates in a population of alpine marmots (Marmota marmota) according to intrinsic (sex and age) and extrinsic (year and climate) factors. We tested predictions concerning (i) a sex effect in a monogamous non-dimorphic species, (ii) age structure of survival rates in a mesomammal, and (iii) the annual variability effect and the contribution of stochastic climatic factors, especially snow cover, frost, and rainfall. We used a 8-year dataset of 367 marmots that were livetrapped and marked in La Sassiere Nature Reserve in the French Alps between 1990 and 1997. Survival and recapture rates were modelled using recent developments in capture-recapture models. Sex had no effect on survival rates, which agrees with the predictions of sexual selection. Survival rates for young of the year (YOY, from weaning to first birthday) were, on average, lower than in the older age class. In the older age class, annual variation occurred that was strongly related to the intensity of autumn frost. By determining the soil temperature at the beginning of hibernation, this factor, though short-lived, could have determined the energetic cost of hibernation. Neither annual variation nor an environmental effect was detected in YOY despite a large sample size. Social thermoregulation could contribute to the stability of YOY survival rates. As infanticide was common after the immigration of a new dominant male, survival of YOY seemed to depend more on social events than on stochastic climatic ones.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/halsde-00295045
Contributor : Kim Pla <>
Submitted on : Friday, July 11, 2008 - 10:29:50 AM
Last modification on : Friday, August 13, 2021 - 11:22:22 AM

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E. Farand, D. Allaine, J. Coulon. Variation in survival rates for the alpine marmot (Marmota marmota): effects of sex, age, year, and climatic factors. Canadian Journal of Zoology, NRC Research Press, 2002, 80 (2), pp.342-349. ⟨10.1139/z02-004⟩. ⟨halsde-00295045⟩

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