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No effect of body condition at weaning on survival and reproduction in prairie voles

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The physiological state of an animal may have a significant impact on its reproductive success because individuals in good body condition are generally considered to be competitively superior to individuals in poor body condition. In this study, we tested if body condition at weaning affected survival and reproduction of prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster (Wagner, 1842)) living under ecologically relevant conditions at two different initial population densities. We detected no evidence that better body condition at weaning was associated with either enhanced survival or reproduction. Moreover, genetic analysis of parentage found that mating between males and females was random with respect to body condition. Results of this study indicate body condition at weaning was not a reliable predictor of future survival or reproduction in prairie voles. This may be because body condition at weaning does not accurately forecast the energetic state of prairie voles at later ages, or because other factors have a greater effect on an individual’s survival and reproductive success at the densities observed in this study.

L’état physiologique d’un animal peut avoir un impact significatif sur son succès reproductif, parce que les individus en bonne condition physique sont généralement considérés comme de meilleurs compétiteurs que les individus en moins bonne forme. Dans notre étude, nous vérifions si la condition physique au moment du sevrage affecte la survie et la reproduction de campagnols des prairies (Microtus ochrogaster (Wagner, 1842)) vivant dans des conditions écologiquement appropriées, mais à deux densités initiales de population. Nous ne décelons aucun indice qu’une meilleure condition physique au sevrage soit associée à une survie plus longue ou une reproduction plus réussie. De plus, une analyse génétique de la filiation indique que les accouplements entre mâles et femelles se font au hasard en ce qui a trait à la condition physique. Les résultats de notre étude indiquent que la condition physique au sevrage n’est pas une variable explicative fiable de la survie et de la reproduction futures chez les campagnols des prairies. Cela doit être parce que la condition physique au sevrage ne permet pas de prédire de façon précise l’état énergétique des campagnols des prairies aux âges plus avancés, ou alors parce que d’autres facteurs ont un effet plus important sur la survie et le succès reproductif des individus aux densités observés dans notre étude.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2007

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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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