Sex-specific actuarial and reproductive senescence in zoo-housed tiger (Panthera tigris): The importance of sub-species for conservation

Morgane Tidière*, Peter Müller, Alexander Sliwa, Aurélie Siberchicot, Guillaume Douay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


A fifth of all known species are currently classified as threatened in the wild: the rate of biodiversity loss is rapid, continuous, and mostly due to anthropogenic activities. To slow down this decline, the accurate estimation of demographic parameters for threatened species is critical. With this aim, zoo institutions play an important role, giving access to data on zoo-housed animals, which aids researchers working on species life-history traits and intrinsic factors influencing the fitness of both sexes, such as age. While tigers (Panthera tigris) are particularly threatened in their natural environment, few of their demographic parameters have been determined because of their solitary and elusive nature as well as low population density. Using individual-based information for more than 9200 tigers (from 1938 to 2018) recorded in the International Tiger Studbook 2018, we aimed to determine sub-species and sex-specific variability of survival and reproductive parameters with age. No significant sex-difference in actuarial senescence (i.e., decline of survival probabilities with age) was observed but males tended to have a higher juvenile mortality and a faster senescence than females. Reproductive senescence (i.e., decline of reproductive parameters with age) was more pronounced in females than males. Moreover, we observed sub-species-specific variation in mortality and reproductive patterns, pointing out the necessity to consider them independently for conservation goals. Our findings can provide meaningful improvements to the husbandry of zoo-housed tigers, emphasizing the importance of adult breeding females of 7–9 years-old to control zoo-housed population size, but also providing accurate demographic estimates, crucial to set up effective conservation plans.

Original languageEnglish
JournalZoo Biology
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)320-329
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

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  • demographic parameters
  • litter size
  • mortality rate
  • survival rate
  • tiger sub-species


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