Influence of intrinsic and extrinsic attributes on neonate survival in an invasive large mammal

Abstract

Understanding factors infuencing survival of neonates for wild species is important for successful management, particularly for determining drivers of population dynamics. Wild pigs (Sus scrofa) are invasive and populations are rapidly increasing in part due to high reproductive capacity. Survival of adults is generally high, however, survival of piglets, and particularly neonates, is largely unknown. We located neonates at the natal nest and quantifed survival in relation to individual and maternal biological attributes, and environmental variables. During 2017–2020, we captured 50 neonates from 13 litters and documented 28 mortalities (56%) over six weeks. Survival was positively infuenced by pelage coloration, likely as a form of camoufage from predators. Male neonates had higher survival. They were born larger than females, which could be benefcial for thermoregulation and competition for milk. Neonates born to larger sows had lower survival. Sow size was positively correlated with litter size, and this fnding may refect the increased nutritional demands of sustaining large litters, or difculties in defending more neonates against predators. Neonates born in warmer months had higher survival than those born in cooler months. Neonates are inefcient thermoregulators, thus being born in warmer months could be benefcial for maintaining homeostasis as well as access to more food resources. These are the largest and most complete data for neonate wild pig survival and will inform population models for the development of management strategies to reduce negative impacts of this destructive invasive species on native ecosystems

  • Citation: Chinn, Sarah M.; Kilgo, John C.; Vukovich, Mark A.; Beasley, James C. 2021. Influence of intrinsic and extrinsic attributes on neonate survival in an invasive large mammal. Scientific Reports. 11(1): 143-. https://doi.org/10.1038/S41598-021-90495-X.
  • Posted Date: July 21, 2021
  • Modified Date: July 22, 2021
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