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Close-kin mark-recapture informs critically endangered terrestrial mammal status

Lloyd-Jones, Luke R., Bravington, Mark V., Armstrong, Kyle N., Lawrence, Emma, Feutry, Pierre, Todd, Christopher M., Dorrestein, Annabel, Welbergen, Justin A., Martin, John M., Rose, Karrie, and others. (2023) Close-kin mark-recapture informs critically endangered terrestrial mammal status. Scientific Reports, 13 (1). Article Number 12512. E-ISSN 2045-2322. (doi:10.1038/s41598-023-38639-z) (KAR id:102313)


Reliable information on population size is fundamental to the management of threatened species. For wild species, mark-recapture methods are a cornerstone of abundance estimation. Here, we show the first application of the close-kin mark-recapture (CKMR) method to a terrestrial species of high conservation value; the Christmas Island flying-fox (CIFF). The CIFF is the island's last remaining native terrestrial mammal and was recently listed as critically endangered. CKMR is a powerful tool for estimating the demographic parameters central to CIFF management and circumvents the complications arising from the species’ cryptic nature, mobility, and difficult-to-survey habitat. To this end, we used genetic data from 450 CIFFs captured between 2015 and 2019 to detect kin pairs. We implemented a novel CKMR model that estimates sex-specific abundance, trend, and mortality and accommodates observations from the kin-pair distribution of male reproductive skew and mate persistence. CKMR estimated CIFF total adult female abundance to be approximately 2050 individuals (95% CI (950, 4300)). We showed that on average only 23% of the adult male population contributed to annual reproduction and strong evidence for between-year mate fidelity, an observation not previously quantified for a Pteropus species in the wild. Critically, our population estimates provide the most robust understanding of the status of this critically endangered population, informing immediate and future conservation initiatives.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1038/s41598-023-38639-z
Uncontrolled keywords: Ecosystem, Population Density, Mammals, Humans, Endangered Species, Male, Animals, Conservation of Natural Resources, Female, Chiroptera
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Funders: University of Kent (
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Depositing User: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 04 Aug 2023 10:21 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2024 03:43 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Macgregor, Nicholas A..

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