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Another one bites the dust: Does incisor-arcade size affect mass gain and survival in grazing ungulates?

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Abstract:

Incisor-arcade size affects foraging efficiency in grazing ungulates and should be under strong selective pressure. We investigated individual variation in incisor-arcade size and its relationship with body mass and survival in bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) at Ram Mountain, Alberta, Canada, over 9 years. In adult ewes, incisor-arcade breadth and depth decreased with age, probably as a result of tooth wear. We found no effects of incisor-arcade size on survival of lambs or adult ewes. In adult ewes, an apparent positive effect of incisor-arcade size on survival disappeared when age was accounted for. Incisor-arcade breadth and depth had no effect on summer mass gain in lambs or adult ewes. Although linear models suggested that arcade breadth in lambs was correlated with summer mass gain, a latent variable path analysis model revealed that the correlation was due to an allometric relationship of arcade breadth with body size. Variation in incisor-arcade size in bighorn sheep appears to be due to individual variation in body size and age rather than to directional selection.

Puisque la taille de l'arcade incisive affecte l'efficacité de la quête de nourriture chez les ongulés broteurs, elle doit subir une forte pression sélective. Nous avons étudié la variation individuelle de la taille de l'arcade incisive et sa relation avec la masse corporelle et la survie chez le mouflon d'Amérique (Ovis canadensis) à Ram Mountain, Alberta (Canada), durant 9 années. Chez les brebis adultes, la largeur et la profondeur de l'arcade décroissent avec l'âge, probablement à cause de l'usure des dents. Il n'y a pas d'effet de la taille de l'arcade sur la survie des agneaux, ni sur celle des brebis adultes. Chez les brebis adultes, un effet positif apparent sur la survie disparaît lorsque l'âge est pris en compte. La largeur et la profondeur de l'arcade n'ont aucun effet sur le gain de masse durant l'été chez les agneaux, ni chez les brebis adultes. Bien que des modèles linéaires semblent indiquer que la largeur de l'arcade chez les agneaux est en corrélation avec le gain de masse en été, un modèle d'analyse des pistes avec variables latentes démontre que la corrélation est due à une relation allométrique entre la largeur de l'arcade et la taille du corps. La variation de la taille de l'arcade incisive chez le mouflon d'Amérique semble donc s'expliquer par les variations individuelles de la taille du corps et de l'âge, plutôt que par la sélection directionnelle.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2003

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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