The University of Arizona

Adult and fawn mortality a Sonoran pronghorn

TitleAdult and fawn mortality a Sonoran pronghorn
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsBright JL, Hervert JJ
JournalWildlife Society Bulletin

We documented adult mortality and fawn recruitment of Sonoran pronghorn (Antilocapra americana sonoriensis) in Arizona. This population is endangered (N < 30) and is decreasing due to low fawn recruitment and adult mortality. We collared Sonoran pronghorn to monitor survival and recruitment from. We relocated each radiocollared pronghorn during weekly telemetry a fixed-wing airplane and recorded group composition to determine recruitment. Mortalities detected during flights were investigated as soon as possible (i.e., < 48 hours) to document adult mortality. Adult mortality rates varied from 11-83%/year. Adult pronghorn were killed by coyotes (Canis latrans), bobcats (Felis rufus), mountain lions (Puma concolor), capturing efforts, drought, and unknown causes. Fawn mortality varied from year to year and was correlated with the amount and timing of rainfall. Drought may be a major factor in the survival of adults and fawns. A lack of nutritious forage and water, caused by dry conditions, led to high fawn mortality and caused adult mortality during a particularly severe drought. Drought also may indirectly affect adult mortality by causing animals to use areas where predators are more successful. Disease may affect mortality but remains largely uninvestigated. Management applications aimed at increasing fawn recruitment and reducing adult mortality should increase the chances of survival of this species. Providing sources of highly nutritious forage during early spring and summer when fawns are susceptible to poor nutrition may increase their chances of survival. Providing water sources and nutritious forage in areas where predators are less successful may increase both adult and fawn survival. Predator control may be useful in limited situations but likely would be prohibitively expensive, with little chance of making a difference over the entire range of Sonoran pronghorn.