Sex differences in relationships between habitat use and reproductive performance in Soay sheep (Ovis aries)

Charlotte E. Regan*, Jill G. Pilkington, Josephine M. Pemberton, Michael J. Crawley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The role of habitat use in generating individual variation in fitness has rarely been examined empirically in natural populations of long-lived mammals, particularly for both sexes simultaneously. This is the case despite the increase in studies attempting to understand evolutionary change in such populations. Using data from the St. Kilda Soay sheep population, we quantified the association between lifetime reproductive performance (lifetime breeding and reproductive success) and the proportion of the home range covered by a key grass species, H. lanatus, for 490 females and 304 males. Increased H. lanatus cover was associated only with increased female lifetime reproductive success, but increased lifetime breeding success for both sexes, arising through increased male longevity and increased female fecundity. This work suggests that improved understanding of the causes and consequences of fitness differences will likely require us to better account for habitat-derived individual variation, and to do so for the sexes appropriately. Copyright

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-179
Number of pages9
JournalEcology Letters
Volume19
Issue number2
Early online date27 Nov 2015
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Nov 2015

Keywords

  • fitness
  • grassland
  • habitat use
  • heathland
  • home range
  • lifetime reproductive success (LRS)
  • Scotland
  • soay sheep
  • St Kilda

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