Effects of environmental variability and breeding experience on northern elephant seal demography

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Demographic rates of animals (i.e., survival and breeding success) generally increase with experience early in life, but temporal variation in the effect of experience on demography is not well understood. The demographic difference between inexperienced versus experienced breeders can be accentuated during poor environmental conditions when food is scarce, or the difference can remain constant regardless of environmental fluctuation. I tested the hypothesis that environmental variation accentuates the difference between inexperienced and experienced breeders using 20 years of capture-mark-recapture data for northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) from the Farallon Islands, California. I estimated year-specific survival probabilities, breeding propensity (the probability that an individual will breed in year x), and breeding success of primiparous (inexperienced) and multiparous (experienced) females. Primiparous breeders did not suffer more than experienced breeders during years of environmental stress. The selection hypothesis (a decrease in heterogeneity in individual quality within cohorts over time, based on selection pressure) could explain the experience-related improvement in survival and breeding success. Lower variances in survival of multiparous breeders suggest that primiparous adults constitute a more heterogeneous portion of the population, and the 1st breeding event might act as a selective process leading to a more homogeneous pool of multiparous breeders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)517-526
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Mammalogy
Volume92
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 9 2011

Fingerprint

Earless Seals
Mirounga angustirostris
elephant
demography
Breeding
breeding
Demography
reproductive success
demographic statistics
environmental stress
temporal variation
Islands
environmental conditions
food
effect
animal
breeds
Pressure
Food
environmental factors

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

Cite this

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Effects of environmental variability and breeding experience on northern elephant seal demography. / Lee, Derek.

In: Journal of Mammalogy, Vol. 92, No. 3, 09.06.2011, p. 517-526.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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