Data from: Hot dogs: high ambient temperatures impact reproductive success in a tropical carnivore
Woodroffe, Rosie; Groom, Rosemary; McNutt, J. Weldon (2018), Data from: Hot dogs: high ambient temperatures impact reproductive success in a tropical carnivore, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.779qv
Climate change imposes an urgent need to recognise and conserve the species likely to be worst affected. However, while ecologists have mostly explored indirect effects of rising ambient temperatures on temperate and polar species, physiologists have predicted direct impacts on tropical species. The African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), a tropical species, exhibits few of the traits typically used to predict climate change vulnerability. Nevertheless, we predicted that wild dog populations might be sensitive to weather conditions, because the species shows strongly seasonal reproduction across most of its geographical range. We explored associations between weather conditions, reproductive costs, and reproductive success, drawing on long-term wild dog monitoring data from sites in Botswana (20°S, 24 years), Kenya (0°N, 12 years), and Zimbabwe (20°S, 6 years). High ambient temperatures were associated with reduced foraging time, especially during the energetically costly pup-rearing period. Across all three sites, packs which reared pups at high ambient temperatures produced fewer recruits than did those rearing pups in cooler weather; at the non-seasonal Kenya site such packs also had longer inter-birth intervals. Over time, rising ambient temperatures at the (longest-monitored) Botswana site coincided with falling wild dog recruitment. Our findings suggest a direct impact of high ambient temperatures on African wild dog demography, indicating that this species, which is already globally endangered, may be highly vulnerable to climate change. This vulnerability would have been missed by simplistic trait-based assessments, highlighting the limitations of such assessments. Seasonal reproduction, which is less common at low latitudes than at higher latitudes, might be a useful indicator of climate change vulnerability among tropical species.
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