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Fertility and Body Weight in Female Red Deer: A Density-Dependent Relationship
S. D. Albon, B. Mitchell and B. W. Staines
Journal of Animal Ecology
Vol. 52, No. 3 (Oct., 1983), pp. 969-980
Published by: British Ecological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4467
Page Count: 12
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(1) The relationship between fertility and body weight in female red deer was compared in five study areas across Scotland. Population density varied from 1.6 to 34.4 deer km-2 between sites. (2) In high density populations, hinds conceived at higher weights than in low density populations. (3) Hinds that had lactated through the previous summer were more strongly affected by density than hinds that had not. (4) Density-dependent variation in the fertility-weight relationship was also found over time, within a single population on Rhum. (5) The results are interpreted in terms of individuals at high densities minimizing the risks of dying during pregnancy, and reducing the energetic costs of lactation, while maximizing the viability of their offspring. Likely proximal factors, including nutrition at the time of breeding and stress as a result of feeding competition, are also discussed.
Journal of Animal Ecology © 1983 British Ecological Society