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    Author(s): Sabrina Morano; Kelley M. Stewart; James S. Sedinger; Christopher A. Nicolai; Marty Vavra
    Date: 2013
    Source: Journal of Mammalogy
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (201.0 KB)


    The principle of energy allocation states that individuals should attempt to maximize fitness by allocating resources optimally among growth, maintenance, and reproduction. Such allocation may result in trade-offs between survival and reproduction, or between current and future reproduction. We used a marked population of North American elk (Cervus elaphus) to determine how energetic costs of reproduction in the current year affect survival and reproduction in the subsequent year. Using a multistate mark-recapture model we examined the influence of individual and environmental variation on trade-offs between these 2 life-history traits. We observed no difference in survival probabilities between pregnant and nonpregnant individuals or as a function of recruiting an offspring. Nonetheless, there was a negative effect of recruiting an offspring in the current year on becoming pregnant the following year. Increased body condition, and higher precipitation, contributed to greater probabilities of becoming pregnant in a particular year regardless of reproductive state and previous recruitment. Costs associated with reproduction led to a reduced probability of future reproduction rather than a reduction in survival. These findings are consistent with risk-sensitive reproductive allocation, where adult survival is maintained through variation in reproductive effort resulting in high and stable adult survival and more-variable reproduction.

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    Morano, Sabrina; Stewart, Kelley M.; Sedinger, James S.; Nicolai, Christopher A.; Vavra, Martin. 2013. Life-history strategies of North American elk: trade-offs associated with reproduction and survival. Journal of Mammalogy, Vol. 94(1): 11 pages.: 162-172.


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    Cervus elaphus, fitness, life-history strategy, multistate mark-recapture technique, recruitment, reproductive costs, resource allocation, risk-sensitivity, transition, probability, ungulates.

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