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Among small-sized, food-limited females tooth wear was twice as rapid as among well-fed, large females. This effect was caused by overgrazing of winter food resources. With increased tooth wear food-limited females had progressively depleted body reserves (weight and fat deposits) during half of their prime reproductive life-span. An important consequence of this was increased offspring losses and lowered reproductive success. Since energy allocation to growth, fattening, survival and reproduction is dependent on both food availability and effective mastication, tooth wear magnifies the effects of food shortage and counteracts the effects of foraging behaviour to enhance fattening and growth during summer. This result does not support the terminal reproductive effort hypothesis.
Oikos © 1988 Nordic Society Oikos