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1 October 2012 Spatio-Temporal Variations in Age Structures of a Partially Re-established Population of Northern River Otters (Lontra canadensis)
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Abstract

Examination of age structures and sex ratios is useful in the management of northern river otters (Lontra canadensis) and other furbearers. Reintroductions and subsequent recolonizations of river otters have been well documented, but changes in demographics between expanding and established populations have not been observed. As a result of reintroduction efforts, immigration from Arkansas and northeastern Texas, and other efforts, river otters have become partially reestablished throughout eastern and central Oklahoma. Our objective was to examine age structures of river otters in Oklahoma and identify trends that relate to space (watersheds, county) and time (USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service county trapping records). We predicted that river otters in western areas of the state were younger than river otters occurring farther east. From 2005–2007, we obtained salvaged river otter carcasses from federal and state agencies, and we live-captured other river otters using leg hold traps. Seventy-two river otters were sampled. Overall, sex ratios were skewed toward females (1F∶0.8M), but they did not differ among spatiotemporal scales examined. Teeth were removed from salvaged and live-captured river otters (n  =  63) for aging. One-year old river otters represented the largest age class (30.2%). Proportion of juveniles (<1 y old) in Oklahoma (19.0%) was less than other states. Mean age of river otters decreased from east-to-west in the Arkansas River and its tributaries. Mean age of river otters differed between the Canadian River Watershed (0.8 y) and the Arkansas River Watershed (2.9 y) and the Canadian River Watershed and the Red River Watershed (2.4 y). Proportion of juveniles did not differ among spatiotemporal scales examined. Similar to age structure variations in other mammalian carnivores, colonizing or growing western populations of river otters in Oklahoma contained younger ages than more established eastern populations.

Dominic A. Barrett and David M. Leslie "Spatio-Temporal Variations in Age Structures of a Partially Re-established Population of Northern River Otters (Lontra canadensis)," The American Midland Naturalist 168(2), 302-314, (1 October 2012). https://doi.org/10.1674/0003-0031-168.2.302
Received: 13 June 2011; Accepted: 1 March 2012; Published: 1 October 2012
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