K. Watter, E. Thomas, N. White, N. Finch, P.J. Murray
Sambar (Rusa unicolor) are the most numerous and rapidly expanding of Australia’s six introduced deer species, however, there is little information about the reproductive biology of sambar deer in their natural habitat. To better predict and manage wild sambar populations in Australia it is important to understand their reproductive seasonality and rate of population growth. From results of the present study, there is reporting of field estimates of age at first breeding, reproductive lifespan, juvenile survival, adult bodyweights and fecundity to derive estimates of the current and intrinsic rates of increase for sambar in Victoria, Australia. Mean age of first reproduction was estimated to be 1.8 years, approximately 80 % of hinds calved between April and August, juvenile survival was estimated as 0.81 and age of last reproduction 12.75 years. Seasonality of reproduction is apparently compressed at 36. latitude compared to sambar at the equator indicating a response to photoperiod. Demographic data were used to estimate the current rate of growth of the Victorian population using the two stage Lotke-Euler equation and age specific schedules of survival and fecundity in a lifetable. These estimates of r were 0.21 and 0.14, respectively, inferring annual rates of population increase of 24 % and 15 %. These data are in the context of a population which, even though there is a marked harvesting, is reportedly growing and dispersing northwards. Suggestions for how this information can inform management decisions directed at the conservation for sustainable use and/or population reduction in Australia are made.