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Climate change and the initiation of spring breeding by deer mice in the Kananaskis Valley, 1985–2003

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Abstract:

Deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus (Wagner, 1845)) in the Kananaskis Valley were monitored from 1985 to 2003 by livetrapping, and first parturition dates were compared among years and examined in relation to spring weather. On average, first litters were conceived on 2 May, well after the winter snowpack melted (19 March) and just before average temperatures reached 0 °C (8 May). First parturitions took place on 26 May, when average temperatures were above freezing. The average temperature at the time of conceptions (late April – early May) declined by approximately 2 °C, and the date that the average temperatures reached 0 °C was 11 days later, between 1985 and 2003, with potential effects for summer phenology. Spring temperatures, but not snowfall, were related to the El Niño Southern Oscillation index. The initiation of breeding by deer mice was variable among years, but was not related to snowfall or temperature and did not change, on average, between 1985 and 2003. The decrease in spring temperatures had no noticeable effects on breeding success. We conclude that photoperiod may be a primary cue for the initiation of spring breeding and that food resources over winter may explain the among-year variation in the initiation of breeding.

Nous avons suivi des souris sylvestres (Peromyscus maniculatus (Wagner, 1845)) de la vallée de Kananaskis de 1985 à 2003 par le piégeage d'animaux vivants; nous avons comparé les dates de mise bas d'une année à l'autre en fonction des conditions climatiques du printemps. Les premières nichées ont été conçues en moyenne le 2 mai, bien après la fonte de la neige accumulée pendant l'hiver (19 mars) et juste avant que les températures moyennes n'atteignent 0 °C (8 mai). Les premières mises bas ont eu lieu le 26 mai, à un moment où les températures moyennes sont supérieures au point de congélation. De 1985 à 2003, la température moyenne au moment de la conception (fin-avril, début de mai) a diminué d'environ 2 °C et la date à laquelle la température moyenne a atteint 0 °C a été retardée de 11 jours, ce qui a eu des effets potentiels sur la phénologie estivale. Les températures du printemps, mais non les précipitations de neige, étaient reliées à l'indice d'oscillation australe d'El Niño. L'initiation de la reproduction chez les souris sylvestres a varié d'une année à l'autre, mais elle n'était pas reliée aux chutes de neige, ni à la température; en moyenne, elle n'a pas changé de 1985 à 2003. La baisse de la température au printemps est restée sans effet apparent sur le succès de la reproduction. Nous concluons que la photopériode doit être le signal principal pour l'initiation de la reproduction au printemps et que les ressources alimentaires au cours de l'hiver expliquent probablement les variations d'une année à l'autre de l'initiation de la reproduction.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 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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