Exploring individual quality in a wild population of red deer

Authors

  • Kelly Moyes,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NF, UK;
    2. Division of Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences, Imperial College at Silwood Park, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7PY, UK;
    3. Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK
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  • Byron J. T. Morgan,

    1. Institute of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NF, UK;
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  • Alison Morris,

    1. Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK
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  • Sean J. Morris,

    1. Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK
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  • Tim H. Clutton-Brock,

    1. Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK
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  • Tim Coulson

    1. Division of Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences, Imperial College at Silwood Park, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7PY, UK;
    2. NERC Centre for Population Biology, Imperial College at Silwood Park, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7PY, UK; and
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*Correspondence author. E-mail: km394@cam.ac.uk

Summary

  • 1A wide range of measures are used to quantify ‘individual quality’, with the term often used but not defined.
  • 2Here we use detailed data from a population of red deer (Cervus elaphus) to assess whether frequently used measures of individual quality are well correlated, and therefore likely to lead to comparable ecological and evolutionary insight in analyses.
  • 3Correlations between measures were usually small, indicating that individuals may be considered high quality for one trait, but low quality for another.
  • 4By using principal component analysis, we illustrate that there are potentially many varied individual life-history tactics within a population.
  • 5This variation in tactics makes it challenging to characterize individual quality as a simple scalar; measures of heterogeneity in ecological studies should therefore be both species and question specific.

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