Significant expertise gaps persist on snow leopard demography and reproductive behavior. From a GPS-collared populace in Mongolia, we approximated the time of mating, parturition and also independence. Based on three mother–cub pairs, we describe the separation step of the cub native its mom as that gains independence. Snow leopards mated from January–March and also gave birth from April–June. Cubs continued to be with their mom until their 2nd winter (20–22 months of age) as soon as cubs started showing motions away native their mother for days in ~ a time. This initiation of independence showed up to coincide v their mommy mating through the ar male. 2 female cubs continued to be in their mothers’ are for several months after initial separation, whereas the male cub quickly dispersed. By to compare the relationship in between body size and age that independence throughout 11 solitary, medium-to-large felid species, it was clear that snow leopards have a delayed time of separation compared to various other species. We imply this may be concerned their adjustment behavior and the challenge of the habitat and also prey catch for juvenile snow leopards. Ours results, if limited, administer empirical approximates for understanding snow leopard ecology and for parameterizing populace models.

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Introduction


Parental investment concept postulates the parents must support present offspring if the gene weighted services to the offspring’s fitness outweigh the expenses to the mother"s (Hamilton 1964; Trivers 1972). This is likely to be influenced by many ecological factors, including source availability (Fuller and Sievert 2001; Kvarnemo et al. 1998; Whittingham and Robertson 1994), adjustment system and also seasonality (Russell et al. 2004; Szekely and also Cuthill 2000), social organization (Moehlman 1989; Royle et al. 2012) and the developmental duration of the offspring (Olson et al. 2008). Discontinuation of parental treatment results in enhancing separation between the parents and offspring and—unless the offspring take over the parents" home range or settle adjacent to it—ultimately leads to natal dispersal. If dispersal is typically a unique event (Clobert et al. 2001), the separation duration preceding this, where parental treatment is greatly reduced and also juvenile independence increases, is often daunting to plainly define, particularly in types where monitoring movements at a appropriate spatiotemporal scale is daunting (Doerr and also Doerr 2005; Samelius et al. 2012). However, with the development of satellite telemetry together as an international Positioning system (GPS)-collars, the tools necessary to observe and quantify the separation and also dispersal procedure are available. Despite this, such studies room rare for elusive varieties because both the mother and also offspring need to be collared; this needs the offspring to be captured prior come separation, but when old enough to undertake a GPS-collar.

Here we existing spatiotemporal data built up during the separation phase of 3 mother–cub bag in a large, solitary felid: the eye leopard (Panthera uncia). Since of the species’ elusive behavior and often inaccessible and rugged such as mountain habitat, couple of data have been tape-recorded on eye leopards’ breeding and dispersal behavior. Incidental observations of adjustment calls and marking behavior suggest that the species has a minimal mating season that occurs in between December and also March (Hemmer 1972; Jackson and Ahlborn 1988; McCarthy and also Chapron 2003; Schaller 1977). Cubs room born the following April–August, and also are thought to be dependent top top their mommy for 1–2 years (Fox and Chundawat 2016; Novikov 1956), or at least for their first winter (Hemmer 1972).

Reliable empirical information regarding the time of mating, parturition, youth independence and the time of a female’s subsequent breeding relative come her existing reproductive costs is essential for understanding a species’ ecology and for modelling their population dynamics and also viability (e.g. Rauset et al. 2015; Tarwater and Brawn 2010). Come date, there space no published data on these parameters indigenous wild snow leopard populations, hence increasing the worth of any obtainable information in this conservation flagship species. Us report data from three GPS-collared juvenile snow leopards and their mothers and also describe the very first stage of independence in this species, i.e. The time of early stage separation in between juvenile and mother, and also the time of dispersal. We research the motion patterns that young snow leopards in relation to their mothers and also to the main point area of their natal range in the months prior to and after separation. Based on these data, us compare snow leopards to other large felids to assess if eye leopards follow the allometric relationship between age that independence and also body weight (Gittleman 1986). We also administer estimates for your time of mating and also parturition, parameters the are needed for future research study on life history, populace dynamics, and the general biology the this elusive felid.


Study area

Our examine was performed in the Tost hills (43° N, 100° E), situated in the hill steppe that the southernmost component of Mongolia, in between 2010 and also 2019. The climate is windy and dry with much less than 130 mm precipitation annually, mean daily temperature varieties from − 14 °C in January come 23 °C in July. Tost consists of numerous rugged hill massifs (altitude 1600–2500 m above sea level), overcome by steep ravines and also separated by wide valleys. Vegetation is sparse and also consists greatly of brief grasses, dwarf shrubs and patches that shrubs dominated by Amygdalus mongolica, Stipa spp., Caragana leucophlaea and also Eurotia ceratoides. The study area (1700 km2) has been surveyed annually due to the fact that 2009 utilizing camera traps and also is estimated to save on computer 10–14 adult people (Sharma et al. 2014). Adult snow leopards display screen intrasexual territoriality with median home range sizes in Tost of 129 and 220 km2 for adult females and also males, dong (Johansson et al. 2016). The key prey of eye leopards in Tost are Siberian ibex (Capra sibirica) and domestic goat/sheep (Capra hircus/Ovis aries), representing 65% and 20% of eye leopard kills, respectively (Johansson et al. 2015). The human populace consists of about 90 semi-nomadic families who live in the steppe in summer and also in the hills in winter.

Data collection

Snow leopards were captured in amendment Aldrich-style foot-snares and also immobilized v a mix of zolazepam–tiletamine and also medetomidine (see Johansson et al. 2013 because that capture and also immobilization details). The snow leopards to be fitted with GPS-collars (GPS add to or peak Lite, Vectronic Aerospace, Berlin, Germany) weighing around 650 g. Collars were programmed to take it a GPS-fix every 5 h and also upkeolistravelservices.com them via Globalstar or Iridium satellites. Every collars were equipped v drop-offs programmed to release after a set time (12–22 months). We collared 26 eye leopards of i m sorry 14 were males and also 12 were females; of these, 3 to be mother–cub pairs wherein 2 of the cubs to be female and also 1 to be a male. All cubs belonged to different mothers, the two females had actually no siblings in ~ time the collaring vice versa, the male had an unmarked sibling. At capture, the cubs were at least 1 year old and weighed 25 kg (Female 1), 27 kg (Female 2) and also 31 kg (Male 1). Collars to be fitted come the cubs according to the dimension of an adult cat of corresponding sex, allowing room for the neck come grow. If a collar was identified as being too loose, e.g. By posing a danger that it can move and also get wedged in the mouth, the cub to be released uncollared.

We saw the dens of 6 females on 7 occasions as soon as their place patterns around certain dates shown that they might have provided birth. All research was performed adhering to the American culture of Mammalogists indict (Sikes et al. 2016), permits to catch snow leopards and conduct study were issued by the Mongolian to adjust of Environment and also Tourism.

Data analyses

Gestation time in zoos has actually been reported to it is in 90–105 days (Fox and also Chundawat 2016) through a median of 96 days (Blomqvist 2018). Over there are currently no released studies detailing the adjustment season or timing of parturition in wild snow leopards. Since snow leopards have actually a strict mating season it complies with that the absolute majority of cubs room born in ~ the very same time the the year. Thus, to estimate age of separation in the mother–cub pairs, us calculated the mean parturition date based upon seven litters in our examine area because that which we had accurate day information. Indigenous this, us could also estimate the timing of mating in this populace by individually the well-known mean gestation time of 96 days indigenous the parturition dates.

Natal home ranges of the collared cubs to be calculated based on the mothers’ general practitioners locations and also estimated together 95% Minimum Convex polygons (MCP) in the software program R (R advancement Core Team 2019) using the package Adehabitat (Calenge 2006). Due to the fact that data were accumulated at various times from every collar, we used the R package moveVis (Schwalb‐Willmann et al. 2020) to produce a consistent dataset v a temporal resolution the 5 h, hence predicting the most most likely location of pets at the very same time stamps. We then approximated the Cartesian distance in between the mother–juvenile pair at every timestamp. We plotted the pure distance between individuals at a resolution that 5 h and also the moving mean of distance in between individuals over the past 50 h. We arbitrarily define separation come occur, and age of independence to begin, when the mean distance between a cub and mother was more than 1000 m for at least 48 h. We additionally identified the arithmetic average of the mother’s residence range, and also calculated the distance between the arithmetic mean and also all the gps positions that both mother and also cub utilizing ArcGIS (Environmental Systems study Institute, Redlands, California). Combined, this allowed us come examine: (1) once cubs showed evidence of separation from their mothers; (2) exactly how long the separation step lasted; and (3) if the cubs continued to be within the natal range during the whole separation step or ventured outside of this area. The separation phase was defined to critical from period of freedom until (1) the cub left the natal range permanently, i.e. Carry out a natal dispersal or; (2) the very first reproduction occasion for those cubs that did no disperse. The latter is a form of passive parental treatment as the mommy defends the territory that the cub makes use of (Class and also Moore 2010; Royle et al. 2012).

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Comparison with various other felids

To to compare the snow leopard to various other felids in relationship to the allometric relationship between age the independence and body weight, we compared our estimates to felids through an median body weight ≥ 10 kg for which we might find estimates in the literature; these to be the jaguar (Panthera onca), puma (Puma concolor), cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), tiger (Panthera tigris), leopard (Panthera pardus), Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), Canadian lynx (Lynx canadensis), bobcat (Lynx rufus), caracal (Caracal caracal) and also serval (Leptailurus serval). We obtained weights for females and males of every species, which us then averaged right into one worth for every species. The mean weight to be then log in (e) revolutionized to be supplied as our last weight variable. Period of freedom was generally reported together a selection in the literature, so we calculated a mean for each varieties and offered that as our period of self-reliance variable. We analyzed the data making use of a linear model in R indigenous the package stats (R core Team 2013), with age of separation together our solution variable and also log(weight) as our predictor. We standardized the residuals of the direct model come identify any potential outliers (standardized residual > 1.96) amongst the species.