[MARMAM] New publication on demography of bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

Alessia Rossi arossi at biologia.unipi.it
Sun Nov 6 10:02:40 PST 2016

Dear MARMAM subscribers,
on behalf of my colleagues I am pleased to share with you our recent 

Piero Manfredi, Luigi Marangi, Alessia Rossi, Giovanni Santangelo 
(2016). An improved model life table for the Indian River Lagoon 
bottlenose dolphin population and remarks on early mortality. Marine 
Mammal Science. 32(4): 1522-1528.

Substantial dolphin population mortality occurs during the first few 
years of life (Mann and Watson-Capps 2005), with evidence of up to 50% 
of newborns eliminated by age 4 (Stolen and Barlow 2003, Mannocci et al. 
2012). In particular, the first year of life is the most cryptic period 
for marine mammals, making it important to understand the underlying 
mortality process in depth. An important source of information for 
age-specific bottlenose dolphin mortality is the stranding data set of 
the Florida Indian River Lagoon population (IRL), for which age at death 
at completed years was reconstructed by counting dentinal growth layer 
groups (Stolen and Barlow 2003). A theoretical life table was built on 
such data by Stolen and Barlow (2003), by fitting Siler’s parametric 
model (Siler 1979) to the age at death of 220 stranded individuals, 
yielding useful information on the mortality pattern of this population. 
In the Siler model the age-specific hazard of mortality is given by the 
sum of three components: an exponentially declining one; a constant one; 
and an exponentially increasing component, which is senescence-related. 
The Siler model provides an excellent fit for many real populations, 
supported by clear biological interpretations of its parameters. A 
possible shortcoming of Stolen and Barlow’s approach is that the Siler 
model was proposed for the IRL data on a priori grounds, i.e., as a 
flexible model for a wide range of long-lived species, without 
preliminary discussion on its full appropriateness for the data 
considered. Indeed, retaining Stolen and Barlow’s (2003) baseline 
assumption of a stationary population (i.e., a stable age distribution 
with an intrinsic growth rate equal to zero; see Caswell 2001), 
inspection of the resulting observed age-specific hazard of mortality in 
the first few years of life does not robustly support the initial 
exponential decline postulated by the Siler model: the mortality rate is 
high (about 18%/yr) at age 0, it declines to about 10% at age 1, it 
climbs back to more than 20% at age 2, and then stays constant in the 
region of 12% in the two subsequent age groups, before declining quite 
rapidly to a bottom rate (around 3.5%/yr on average) which remains 
roughly constant between age 6 and 15. Similar patterns have been 
observed also in other published data (Mannocci et al. 2012). The 
above-described pattern in the data indicates as more plausible the 
alternative hypothesis of a roughly constant hazard of mortality in the 
first 5 yr of life, followed by a rather rapid decline before bottoming 
out, prior to the final onset of the exponentially increasing phase. We 
therefore propose, as an alternative to the Siler model, a new model, 
termed ReLogit for ease, replacing the exponentially declining component 
for early mortality with three-parameter “reversed-logistic” curve.

Please contact me by email (arossi at biologia.unipi.it) for the full text. 
I will be glad to send you a pdf copy.
Kind regards
Alessia Rossi

PhD Alessia Rossi
Biology Department (Zoology - Animal Ecology) - Demography and 
Conservation Laboratory
via A.Volta, 6 - 56126 Pisa, Italy
Cell: +393494743502. e-mail: arossi at biologia.unipi.it skype: musicale85

More information about the MARMAM mailing list