Mechanistic explanations for drought-related mortality of juvenile red kangaroos: implications for population dymanics and modelling
Why do juvenile red kangaroos (Macropus rufus) die during drought? Answering this question has important implications for understanding the population dynamics not only of red kangaroos, but also of large macropodids generally. In fact, highly variable and often very high juvenile mortalities are a common feature of large herbivorous mammals worldwide. Population growth and persistence in many species is largely dependent on juvenile recruitment through favourable environmental conditions. Understanding juvenile kangaroo survival in relation to environmental conditions is therefore crucial for accurately modeling their population dynamics. Here we review recent studies that have compared the physiological ecology of juvenile and adult M. rufus, providing the first mechanistic explanations for vulnerability of young kangaroos to drought conditions.