The persistence of wildlife populations largely depends on females successfully rearing young through the earliest, most vulnerable period. During this period, mothers must balance the costs of home range maintenance, food acquisition, and protection of cubs. We monitored a GPS-collared Amur tigress Panthera tigris altaica for 4 months prior to and 4 months after giving birth to assess how home range size, activity budget, movements, and hunting behavior changed between these periods. After birth, home range size collapsed as activities were centered around the den site. With cubs, the tigress spent slightly less time moving, but greatly increased the rate at which she traveled. Kill rate, handling time, and daily consumption rates did not change significantly, but there was an indication that larger prey were killed during the natal denning period than in other periods. When cubs left the den site and started travelling with their mother, the female was able to increase time spent with cubs, reducing risk of predation. We hypothesize that some of the behaviors of this tigress, which appeared likely to increase cub survival, may be universal across the species, but others will be dependent on ecological parameters specific to the site.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Ackerman BB, Lindzey FG, Hemker TP (1986) Predictive energetics models for cougars. In: Miller SD, Everett DD (eds) Cats of the world: biology, conservation, and management. National Wildlife Federation, Washington, pp 333–352
Anderson CR, Lindzey FG (2003) Estimating cougar predation rates from GPS location clusters. J Wildl Manage 67:307–316
Bromley GF, Kucherenko SP (1983) Ungulates of the Southern Far East USSR. Nauka, Moscow
Caughley G (1966) Mortality patterns in mammals. Ecology 47:906–918
Chundawat RS, Gogate N, Johnsingh AJT (1999) Tigers in Panna: preliminary results from an Indian tropical dry forest. In: Seidensticker J, Jackson P, Christie S (eds) Riding the tiger: tiger conservation in human-dominated landscapes. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, New York, pp 123–129
Danilkin AA (1999) Mammals of Russia and adjacent regions: deer (Cervidae). GEOS, Moscow
Gitzen RA, Millspaugh JJ, Kernohan BJ (2006) Bandwidth selection for fixed-kernel analysis of animal utilization distributions. J Wildl Manage 70:1334–1344
Goodrich JM, Kerley LL, Schleyer BO et al (2001) Capture and chemical anesthesia of Amur (Siberian) tigers. Wildl Soc Bull 29:533–542. https://doi.org/10.2307/3784177
Goodrich JM, Miquelle DG, Smirnov EN et al (2010) Spatial structure of Amur (Siberian) tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) on Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Zapovednik, Russia. J Mammal 91:737–748. https://doi.org/10.1644/09-MAMM-A-293.1.Key
Gu J, Guo Y, Stott P, Jiang G, Ma J (2016) A comparison of reproductive parameters of female Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) in the wild and captivity. Integr Zool 11:33–39. https://doi.org/10.1111/1749-4877.12177
Hernandez-Blanco JA, Naidenko SV, Chistopolova MD, Lukarevskiy VS, Kostyrya A, Rybin A, Sorokin PA, Litvinov MN, Kotlyar AK, Miquelle DG, Rozhnov VV (2015) Social structure and space use of Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) in Southern Russian Far East based on GPS telemetry data. Integr Zool 10:365–375. https://doi.org/10.1111/1749-4877.12140
Kerley LL, Goodrich JM, Miquelle DG et al (2002) Effects of roads and human disturbance on Amur tigers. Conserv Biol 16:97–108
Kerley LL, Goodrich JM, Miquelle DG et al (2003) Reproductive parameters of wild female Amur (Siberian) tigers (Panthera tigris altaica). J Mammal 84:288–298. https://doi.org/10.1644/1545-1542(2003)084<0288:RPOWFA>2.0.CO;2
Kerley LL, Mukhacheva AS, Matyukhina DS, Salmanova E, Salkina GP, Miquelle DG (2015) A comparison of food habits and prey preference of Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) at three sites in the Russian Far East. Integr Zool 10:354–364. https://doi.org/10.1111/1749-4877.12135
Knopff KH, Knopff AA, Warren MB, Boyce MS (2009) Evaluating global positioning system telemetry techniques for estimating cougar predation parameters. J Wildl Manage 73:586–597. https://doi.org/10.2193/2008-294
Laurenson KM (1995) Behavioral costs and constraints of lactation in free-living cheetahs. Anim Behav 50:815–826. https://doi.org/10.1016/0003-3472(95)80141-3
Lewis JCM, Goodrich JM (2009) Principles and practice of field anaesthesia. WCS-Russia, Vladivostok
Maehr DS, Land ED, Roof JC, Mccown JW (1989) Early maternal behavior in the Florida panther (Felis concolor coryi). Am Midl Nat 122:34–43. https://doi.org/10.2307/2425680
Majumder A, Basu S, Sankar K et al (2012) Home ranges of Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris L.) in Pench Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, Central India. Wildl Biol Pract 8:36–49. https://doi.org/10.2461/wbp.2012.8.4
Miller CS, Hebblewhite M, Petrunenko YK et al (2013) Estimating Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) kill rates and potential consumption rates using global positioning system collars. J Mammal 94:845–855. https://doi.org/10.1644/12-MAMM-A-209.1
Miller CS, Hebblewhite M, Petrunenko YK et al (2014) Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) energetic requirements: Implications for conserving wild tigers. Biol Conserv 170:120–129. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2013.12.012
Miquelle DG, Smirnov EN, Quigley HB et al (1996) Food Habits of Amur Tigers in Sikhote-Alin Zapovednik and the Russian Far East, and implications for conservation. J Wildl Res 1:138–147
Miquelle DG, Goodrich JM, Smirnov EN et al (2010) Amur tiger: a case study of living on the edge. In: The Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 325–339
Oftedal OT, Gittleman JL (1989) Patterns of energy output during reproduction in carnivores. In: Gittleman JL (ed) Carnivore Behavior, Ecology, and Evolution. Cornell University Press, New York, pp 355–378
Petrunenko YK, Montgomery RA, Seryodkin IV et al (2016) Spatial variation in the density and vulnerability of preferred prey in the landscape shape patterns of Amur tiger habitat use. Oikos 125:66–75. https://doi.org/10.1111/oik.01803
Rodnikova IM, Tyurin AN (2015) Sikhote-Alin Reserve (Russia). Biodivers Environ Far East Reserv:3–9
Rozhnov VV, Hernandez-Blanco JA, Lukarevskiy VS, Naidenko SV, Sorokin PA, Litvinov MN, Kotlyar AK, Pavlov DS (2011) Application of satellite collars to the study of home range and activity of the Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica). Biol Bull 38:834–847. https://doi.org/10.1134/S1062359011080073
Sand H, Wabakken P, Zimmermann B, Johansson O, Pedersen HC, Liberg O (2008) Summer kill rates and predation pattern in a wolf-moose system: can we rely on winter estimates? Oecologia 156:53–64. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-008-0969-2
Schmidt K (1998) Maternal behaviour and juvenile dispersal in the Eurasian lynx. Acta Theriol (Warsz) 43:391–408. https://doi.org/10.4098/AT.arch.98-50
Schmidt K, Jędrzejewski W, Theuerkauf J, Kowalczyk R, Okarma H, Jędrzejewska B (2008) Reproductive behaviour of wild-living wolves in Białowieża Primeval Forest (Poland). J Ethol 26:69–78. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10164-006-0031-y
Sibly RM, Collett D, Promislow DEL et al (1997) Mortality rates of mammals. J Zool 243:1–12. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7998.1997.tb05751.x
Sikes RS, Gannon WL, the Animal Care and Use Committee of the American Society of Mammalogists (2011) Guidelines of the American Society of Mammalogists for the use of wild mammals in research. J Mammal 92:235–253. https://doi.org/10.1644/10-MAMM-F-355.1
Simcharoen A, Savini T, Gale GA et al (2014) Female tiger Panthera tigris home range size and prey abundance: Important metrics for management. Oryx 48:370–377. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0030605312001408
Smith JLD (1993) The role of dispersal in structuring the Chitwan tiger population. Behaviour 124:165–195
Smith JLD, McDougal CW, Sunquist ME (1987) Female land tenure system in tigers. In: Tilson RL, Seal US (eds) Tigers of the World: the biology, biopolitics, management, and conservation of an endangered species. Noyes Publications, pp 97–109
Thompson SD, Nicoll ME (1986) Basal metabolic rate and energetics of reproduction in therian mammals. Nature 321:690–693. https://doi.org/10.1038/321690a0
Webb NF, Hebblewhite M, Merrill EH (2008) Statistical methods for identifying wolf kill sites using Global Positioning System locations. J Wildl Manage 72:798–807. https://doi.org/10.2193/2006-566
Wilmers CC, Crabtree RL, Smith DW et al (2003) Trophic facilitation by introduced top predators: grey wolf subsidies to scavengers in Yellowstone National Park. J Anim Ecol 72:909–916. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2656.2003.00766.x
Yachmennikova AA, Rozhnov VV, Blidchenko EY, Poyarkov AD, Korenkova AA, Shteiman AA (2018) Data integration for the general-purpose scale of tiger cubs ontogenesis. Biol Bull Rev 8:245–255. https://doi.org/10.1134/S2079086418030106
Yudakov GA, Nikolaev IG (2012) Winter ecology of the Amur tiger based upon observations in West-Central Sikhote-Alin Mountains 1970–1973, 1996–2010, 2nd Revise. Dalnauka, Vladivostok
Zar JH (1984) Biostatistical analysis, 2nd editio. Prentice-Hall Inc, Englewood Cliffs
We thank the staff of the Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Zapovednik for their ongoing support of our research, especially former Directors Anatoly Astafiev and Dmitry Gorshkov. The Siberian Tiger Project staff, particularly Vladimir Melnikov, Daria Maksimova, and Evgeniy Gishko helped to collect data in the field. Comments from Dr. Krzysztof Schmidt and two anonymous reviewers substantially improved the manuscript. Special thanks to Mikhail Borisov, Ekaterina Petrunenko and Clay Miller for contributing to the project.
Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, Panthera’s Kaplan Graduate Award Program, Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenburg Foundation, Save the Tiger Fund, USFWS Tiger Rhino Conservation Fund, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Capture and handling of the tigress followed guidelines of the American Society of Mammalogists (Sikes et al. 2011). Protocols were approved by the Animal Care Committee of the Wildlife Conservation Society as well as the University of Montana Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (UM IACUC AUP 043-09).
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Communicated by: Krzysztof Schmidt
Electronic supplementary material
About this article
Cite this article
Petrunenko, Y.K., Seryodkin, I.V., Bragina, E.V. et al. How does a tigress balance the opposing constraints of raising cubs?. Mamm Res 65, 245–253 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13364-019-00466-x
- Amur tiger
- Panthera tigris altaica
- Maternal behavior
- Predation rate