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Effects of extra food on nestling growth and survival in red-backed voles (Clethrionomys gapperi)

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Nestling mortality is typically high among small mammals, with food often considered an important limiting factor because of the increased energetic costs females incur during lactation. We provided female red-backed voles, Clethrionomys gapperi (Vigors, 1830), with sunflower seeds during lactation to test the hypothesis that food supply influences nestling growth and survival. Food supplementation did not increase nestling survival, but newly emerged young from fed mothers were significantly heavier than those from unfed mothers. High mortality/dispersal of postemergent young, particularly females, was associated with high densities of breeding females. We suggest that any survival advantage incurred from higher nestling growth rates may be mitigated by density-dependent mortality/ dispersal postemergence.

La mortalité au nid est généralement élevée chez les petits mammifères et la nourriture est souvent considérée comme le facteur limitant à cause des coûts énergétiques accrus que l'allaitement impose aux femelles. Nous avons fourni des graines de tournesol à des campagnols à dos roux de Gapper, Clethrionomys gapperi (Vigors, 1830), durant la période d'allaitement afin de vérifier l'hypothèse selon laquelle la nourriture disponible influence la croissance et la survie des petits au nid. L'addition de nourriture n'accroît pas la survie des petits, mais les petits qui émergent de nids où la mère a été alimentée sont significativement plus lourds que ceux dont la mère n'a pas été nourrie. La mortalité et la dispersion élevées des petits, particulièrement des femelles, après l'émergence sont associées à de fortes densités de femelles reproductrices. Nous croyons que la mortalité et la dispersion dépendantes de la densité après l'émergence viennent atténuer les avantages pour la survie que peuvent fournir les taux de croissance plus élevés au nid.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2004

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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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