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Early Development and Population Dynamics in Red Deer. II. Density-Independent Effects and Cohort Variation

S. D. Albon, T. H. Clutton-Brock and F. E. Guinness
Journal of Animal Ecology
Vol. 56, No. 1 (Feb., 1987), pp. 69-81
DOI: 10.2307/4800
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4800
Page Count: 13
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Early Development and Population Dynamics in Red Deer. II. Density-Independent Effects and Cohort Variation
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Abstract

(1) We investigated cohort differences in survival and reproductive success of female red deer in an increasing population on the Isle of Rhum, Scotland. (2) Juvenile survival and fecundity were density-dependent and showed a progressive decline in each successive cohort recruited into the population. In contrast, cohort differences in the survival of offspring were density-independent. After accounting for the density-dependent decline in fecundity, the residual variation of cohorts was concordant with the density-independent variation in survival of their offspring. (3) Cohort differences in offspring survival were related to variation in mean birth weight of offspring born to the cohort. Cohort variation in offspring birth weight was correlated with differences in the cohort's birth weight. This, in turn, was positively correlated with temperature in April and May, the last 2 months of gestation. (4) Cohorts born after warm springs were more likely to begin their breeding lives early and experienced higher adult survival rates than cohorts born after cold springs. (5) The results suggest that early growth and development have a permanent effect on reproductive success presumably because the prevailing environmental conditions in the first summer of life influence adult size. The implications of these density-independent effects for population demography and reproductive strategies are discussed.

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