Wildlife pedigrees provide insights into ecological and evolutionary processes. DNA obtained from noninvasively collected hair is often used to determine individual identities for pedigrees and other genetic analyses. However, detection rates associated with some noninvasive DNA studies can be relatively low, and genetic data do not provide information on individual birth year. Supplementing hair DNA stations with video cameras should increase the individual detection rate, assuming accurate identification of individuals via video data. Video data can also provide birth year information for individuals captured as young of the year, which can enrich population-level pedigrees. We placed video cameras at hair stations and combined genetic and video data to reconstruct an age-specific, population-level pedigree of wild black bears during 2010-2020. Combining individual birth year with mother-offspring relatedness, we also estimated litter size, interlitter interval, primiparity, and fecundity. We used the Cormack-Jolly-Seber model in Program Mark to evaluate the effect of maternal identity on offspring apparent survival. We compared model rankings of apparent survival and parameter estimates based on combined genetic and video data with those based on only genetic data. We observed 42 mother-offspring relationships. Of these, 21 (50%) would not have been detected had we used hair DNA alone. Moreover, video data allowed for the cub and yearling age classes to be determined. Mean annual fecundity was 0.42 (95% CI: 0.27, 0.56). Maternal identity influenced offspring apparent survival, where offspring of one mother experienced significantly lower apparent survival (0.39; SE = 0.15) than that of offspring of four other mothers (0.89-1.00; SE = 0.00-0.06). We video-documented cub abandonment by the mother whose offspring experienced low apparent survival, indicating individual behaviors (e.g., maternal care) may scale up to affect population-level parameters (e.g., cub survival). Our findings provide insights into evolutionary processes and are broadly relevant to wildlife ecology and conservation.
Reynolds-Hogland, Melissa J.; Ramsey, Alan B.; Muench, Carly; Pilgrim, Kristine L.; Engkjer, Cory; Ramsey, Philip W. 2022. Age-specific, population-level pedigree of wild black bears provides insights into reproduction, paternity, and maternal effects on offspring apparent survival. Ecology and Evolution. 12: e8770.