Document Detail

Bighorn ewes transfer the costs of reproduction to their lambs.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  20735260     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Several studies of large mammals report no direct reproductive costs for females. Individual heterogeneity may hide fitness costs of reproduction, but mothers could also transfer some costs to their offspring. Using data on 442 lambs weaned by 146 bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) ewes at Ram Mountain, Alberta, we studied how reproductive effort varied with environmental and maternal conditions. During summer, lactating ewes should gain enough mass to survive the winter and to support their next gestation, while nursing their current lamb. We measured reproductive effort as summer mass gain by lambs corrected for maternal mass in June and maternal mass gain during summer. Females lowered their reproductive effort when population density increased and if they had weaned a lamb the previous year. A reduction in reproductive effort led to lower winter survival by lambs. Bighorn ewes have a conservative reproductive tactic and always favor their own body condition over that of their lambs. When resources are limited, ewes appear to transfer reproductive costs to their lambs, as expected from the much greater relative fitness consequences of a reduction in maternal than in offspring survival.
Julien G A Martin; Marco Festa-Bianchet
Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The American naturalist     Volume:  176     ISSN:  1537-5323     ISO Abbreviation:  Am. Nat.     Publication Date:  2010 Oct 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2010-09-03     Completed Date:  2011-01-13     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  2984688R     Medline TA:  Am Nat     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  414-23     Citation Subset:  IM    
Département de Biologie, Université de Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada.
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MeSH Terms
Age Factors
Maternal Behavior
Population Density
Reproduction / physiology*
Sheep / anatomy & histology,  growth & development,  physiology*
Weight Gain

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