Individual access to preferred habitat affects fitness components in female roe deer Capreolus capreolus
Erlend B. Nilsen, Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, N-7491 Trondheim, Norway. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 1Many studies have reported variation in life-history traits and reproductive success within populations. One potential source for the reported variation is fine-scale spatial variation in habitat quality.
- 2In this study the effects of differences in home-range quality on individual fitness were investigated in a roe deer population in an agricultural–woodland mosaic landscape in central Norway.
- 3Compositional analysis revealed that woodland was the most preferred habitat: its availability was therefore used as an index of home-range quality.
- 4It was found that the quality of the does’ winter home-range affected fawn production in the subsequent spring, as females with greatest availability of preferred habitat during winter produced the larger litters the subsequent spring.
- 5Furthermore, the winter weights of the fawns seemed to be affected by home-range quality in a complex way. First, home-range quality in the prenatal winter seems to influence the birthdate and in turn the weight of the fawns in August. Also there was an immediate effect of the quality of the home-range that the fawns occupied during the postnatal winter.
- 6These results are not consistent with the ideal free distribution theory, suggesting that the mechanisms for roe deer spacing behaviour should be re-examined.