Temporal quota corrections based on timing of harvest in a small game species
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionEuropean Journal of Wildlife Research. 2012, 58 (5), 797-802. 10.1007/s10344-012-0625-3
Theoretical models have shown that the effect of removing a given proportion of the population can be profoundly different if the harvest takes place late in the season compared to early. We explore the effect of these differences using theoretical models based on the concept of demographic value and empirical data on seasonal patterns of natural mortality risk in two contrasting populations of willow ptarmigan in Norway. Based on the theoretical models, we found that changes in the timing of harvest have a much stronger effect in populations with relatively low annual survival compared to populations characterized by longevity typical for species with slow life histories. Also, the timing of harvest is more influential in cases with constant mortality hazards compared to a situation with densitydependent natural mortality. Empirical data from two study populations of willow ptarmigan showed large deviations from the theoretical predictions of models with both constant and density-dependent mortality hazards. There were also large differences in both the temporal pattern and magnitude of annual survival between the two ptarmigan populations (54 vs 26% annual survival). Site differences illustrate the importance of knowledge of both the magnitude and temporal pattern of natural mortality hazard to be able to correctly predict the effect of changing the timing of harvest in a population. In the two ptarmigan populations, we show how harvest quotas can be adjusted in accordance to the empirical estimates of natural mortality risk and how this determines the effects of shifting from harvesting early to late in the annual cycle.