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ESR prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Age-specific survival and reproductive rates of Mediterranean monk seals at Cabo Blanco Peninsula

Pablo Fernández de Larrinoa*, Jason D. Baker, Miguel A. Cedenilla, Albert L. Harting, Moulaye O. Haye, Mercedes Muñoz, Hamdy M’Bareck, Abba M’Bareck, Fernando Aparicio, Soledad Centenera, Luis M. González

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: We provide the first complete set of survival rate estimates for Mediterranean monk seals from birth into adulthood, as well as the first age-specific reproductive rates for the species. From 2002 to 2016, we obtained individual seal live encounter data through non-invasive monitoring techniques that were analyzed to estimate vital rates of Mediterranean monk seals of the Cabo Blanco population. From birth to age 2 months, when pups molt, survival averaged 0.59, ranging from 0.41 to 0.74 among cohorts. From birth to 1 year and from 1 to 2 years, median estimated survival rates were 0.46 and 0.75, respectively. Beyond 2 years, survival estimates differed by sex; 0.94 for males and 0.97 for females. From 2005 to 2016, we estimated a mean gross reproductive rate of 0.71. The youngest parturient females were 3 years old. Fitted age-specific reproductive rates increased beginning at age 3 years and exceeded 0.80 from age 6 to 17 years. Despite low survival during the first 2 months of life, the aggregate vital rates of the population are favorable for growth; a Leslie matrix containing our survival and fecundity estimates yields an intrinsic growth rate of 1.058. Increasing abundance and favorable vital rates are a testament to the efficacy of the many measures taken to promote the conservation of this population.