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Population Biology of Microtus arvalis. I. Lifetime Reproductive Success of Solitary and Grouped Breeding Females
Christine C. K. Boyce and Jesse L. Boyce III
Journal of Animal Ecology
Vol. 57, No. 3 (Oct., 1988), pp. 711-722
Published by: British Ecological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/5088
Page Count: 12
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(1) Lifetime reproductive success was used to measure the relative cost of solitary and grouped breeding in female common voles Microtus arvalis (Pallas 1779). It was measured as the number of breeding daughters produced per lifetime in a high density population in a 0.79-ha orchard near Bayreuth, West Germany, from June to November 1980. (2) Litter size, age at maturity and survival were measured by radiotracking breeding females to their nests at twenty-four artificial nest sites and by counting, marking and investigating the eventual reproductive state of pups in the litter. To assess the survival of pups after they left the maternal nest they were radiotracked from the age they opened their eyes (11 days). (3) Although grouped breeding females produced about four more pups during the breeding seasons than did solitary breeding females, the daughters of solitary breeding females matured significantly earlier at a mean age of 13.7 days than did daughters of grouped breeding females (mean 27.4 days) and 63% survived to produce a first litter while only 33% of the communal young survived to breed. (4) Solitary breeding females produced on average two more breeding daughters than those breeding in groups. While solitary breeding females before winter produced more breeding and more distantly dispersing offspring, grouped breeding probably has a much greater selective advantage when the survival of overwintering generations is included in the calculation of the relative reproductive success of the two types of females.
Journal of Animal Ecology © 1988 British Ecological Society