The effects of background mortality on optimal reproduction in a seasonal environment

JM McNamara, RK Welham, AI Houston, S Daan, JM Tinbergen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We consider optimal annual routines of reproductive behaviour in a seasonal environment. In our model the condition of the organism is adversely affected by hard work, but can recover during easy periods. Our analysis concentrates on the effects of background mortality (i.e., mortality that cannot be avoided) on the optimal strategy and how often an organism following this strategy breeds. In particular, we are concerned with whether reproduction occurs at specific times of year (entrained to the annual cycle), and if so then how many reproductive bouts occur per year. We find that an increase in background mortality can have various effects. If the animal is entrained to the annual cycle and has one breeding attempt per year, then breeding tends to occur earlier and there may be two breeding attempts per season. Another possible outcome is that breeding is no longer entrained. If the animal is entrained but sometimes skips reproduction so that it does not breed every year, then an increase in mortality may make it more likely that the animal breeds every year. We show that as background mortality increases the resultant increase in the frequency of breeding contributes to the increase in annual mortality. We also explore the effects of mortality on the timing of reproduction within a year, highlighting the tension between the interests of the parent and that of the young. (C) 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Translated title of the contributionThe effects of background mortality on optimal reproduction in a seasonal environment
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361 - 372
Number of pages12
JournalTheoretical Population Biology
Volume65 (4)
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2004

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Academic Press Inc Elsevier Science
Other identifier: IDS Number 823OF

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