Risk-sensitive reproductive allocation: fitness consequences of body mass losses in two contrasting environments
Article first published online: 3 MAR 2014
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Ecology and Evolution
Volume 4, Issue 7, pages 1030–1038, April 2014
How to Cite
Ecology and Evolution 2014; 4(7):1030–1038
- Issue published online: 7 APR 2014
- Article first published online: 3 MAR 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: 28 JAN 2014
- Manuscript Revised: 10 JAN 2014
- Manuscript Received: 24 SEP 2013
- Research Council of Norway
- Norwegian Directorate of Nature Management
- County Authorities of Troms and Finnmark, Norway
- individual optimization;
- individual quality;
- phenotypic plasticity;
- Rangifer tarandus ;
- state dependence
For long-lived organisms, the fitness value of survival is greater than that of current reproduction. Asymmetric fitness rewards suggest that organisms inhabiting unpredictable environments should adopt a risk-sensitive life history, predicting that it is adaptive to allocate resources to increase their own body reserves at the expense of reproduction. We tested this using data from reindeer populations inhabiting contrasting environments and using winter body mass development as a proxy for the combined effect of winter severity and density dependence. Individuals in good and harsh environments responded similarly: Females who lost large amounts of winter body mass gained more body mass the coming summer compared with females losing less mass during winter. Additionally, females experienced a cost of reproduction: On average, barren females gained more body mass than lactating females. Winter body mass development positively affected both the females' reproductive success and offspring body mass. Finally, we discuss the relevance of our findings with respect to scenarios for future climate change.