NCEAS Project 4480

The evolution of cooperative breeding in Canidae: Implications for extinction risk

  • Patricia D. Moehlman

ActivityDatesFurther Information
Sabbatical Fellow1st October 2001—30th September 2002Participant List  
Undergraduate Intern12th June—30th September 2002Participant List  

Family Canidae is composed of approximately 36 species. Seven of these species are extinct or threatened with extinction. These seven species all have a mean body mass of over 13 kilograms. Why do larger canids apparently face a higher extinction risk? This book will examine the role of body mass and ecology in the evolution of cooperative breeding in Family Canidae and the implications for population viability. Long-term research on a medium sized canid, e.g. jackals, will provide data sets on kinship, territory tenureship (survival), and relative reproductive success that allow graphic modeling of alternative reproductive tactics. These data will also allow estimates of population viability that include individual, temporal, and spatial variation. The book will then broaden its scope to examine the allometry of canid life history traits and the evolution of cooperative breeding. The final section of the book will search for patterns that examine how some canid species may be limited by their ecology and food resources and also constrained by their reproductive options. A model will be developed that incorporates body mass, kinship, demography, and ecology to assess how these factors affect alternative canid reproductive tactics. Such a model has the potential to elucidate why larger canids experience higher risk of extinction.

TypeProduct of NCEAS Research
Journal Article Moehlman, Patricia D. 2005. Endangered wild equids. Scientific American. Vol: March. Pages 86-93.