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Life-History Consequences of Maternal Condition in Alaskan Moose

Mark A. Keech, R. Terry Bowyer, Jay M. Ver Hoef, Rodney D. Boertje, Bruce W. Dale and Thomas R. Stephenson
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 64, No. 2 (Apr., 2000), pp. 450-462
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3803243
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3803243
Page Count: 13
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Life-History Consequences of Maternal Condition in Alaskan Moose
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Abstract

We studied life-history characteristics of Alaskan moose (Alces alces gigas) including the effects of maternal condition of adult females (>33 months old) on survival and physical condition of young during their first year-of-life. We also examined the relation between maternal condition and reproductive parameters of individual adult moose, and tested for effects of those parameters on timing and synchrony of parturition. We radiotracked adult females captured in both March 1996 and 1997 throughout the year with intensive monitoring occurring during spring and early summer. That procedure enabled us to capture the offspring of females we monitored and record other variables related to reproductive success. Females with greater rump fat thickness had higher rates of pregnancy, gave birth to more twins, and produced young with higher birth masses than did females with less rump fat. Time-to-death for individual young increased as birth mass increased and decreased as birth date and litter size increased; those birth variables, however, did not act upon time-to-death independently. Our results indicated maternal condition influenced subsequent variables associated with birth, which ultimately affected future survival of offspring. Further, timing of reproduction varied between the 2 years, with births occurring earlier but not more synchronously in 1996 than in 1997. Time of parturition occurred earlier for individual females with the thickest rump fat. That outcome indicated that timing of parturition was the result of environmental factors acting on females prior to giving birth rather than effects of attempting to avoid predation.

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