Hurricane-induced demographic changes in a non-human primate population




Major disturbance events can have large impacts on the demography and dynamics of animal populations. Hurricanes are one example of an extreme climatic event, predicted to increase in frequency due to climate change, and thus expected to be a considerable threat to population viability. However, little is understood about the underlying demographic mechanisms shaping population response following these extreme disturbances. Here, we analyse 45 years of the most comprehensive free-ranging non-human primate demographic dataset to determine the effects of major hurricanes on the variability and maintenance of long-term population fitness. For this, we use individual-level data to build matrix population models and perform perturbation analyses. Despite reductions in population growth rate mediated through reduced fertility, our study reveals a demographic buffering during hurricane years. As long as survival does not decrease, our study shows that hurricanes do not result in detrimental effects at the population level, demonstrating the unbalanced contribution of survival and fertility to population fitness in long-lived animal populations.

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© 2020 The Authors.

Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.