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Age-related male reproductive effort in two mountain ungulates of contrasting sexual size dimorphism

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In polygynous ungulates, the reproductive effort of adult males peaks during a short period in which feeding activities are sacrificed for mating activities. Hence, both fat reserves and body mass are predicted to decline markedly during this period. The decline is also predicted to be greater in fat reserves than in body mass because fat is catabolized before muscle, and to increase with the intensity of sexual selection. In contrast, no specific patterns are expected in females for which late gestation and lactation rather than mating are the energetically most demanding periods. We tested these hypotheses in two mountain ungulates of contrasting sexual size dimorphism (SSD): Himalayan tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus (H. Smith, 1826)) (SSD = 123%) and alpine chamois ( Rupicapra rupicapra (L., 1758)) (SSD = 26%). As expected, kidney fat declined more rapidly than body mass in adult males of both species. Kidney fat declined faster in adult male tahr compared with adult male chamois. There was no consistent pattern of changes in body mass or kidney fat in female tahr or female chamois. Our results suggest that adult males of species with strong SSD allocate more energy to mating than males of less dimorphic species.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage, Centre National d’Étude et de Recherche Appliquée sur la Faune de Montagne, Portes du soleil, 147 route de Lodève, F-34990 Juvignac, France. 2: Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Department of Sustainability and Environment, 123 Brown Street, Heidelberg, Victoria 3084, Australia. 3: Laboratoire d’Écologie Alpine (LECA), CNRS, UMR 5553, Université de Savoie, F-73376 Le Bourget du Lac, France. 4: Bull Creek Road, RD, Milton 9292, Otago, New Zealand. 5: Université de Lyon, F-69000 Lyon; Université Lyon 1, CNRS, UMR 5558, Laboratoire de Biométrie et Biologie Evolutive, F-69622 Villeurbanne, France.

Publication date: 2011-10-16

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