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Data from: Seasonal climate effects on the survival of a hibernating mammal

Cite this dataset

Falvo, Caylee A.; Koons, David N.; Aubry, Lise M. (2019). Data from: Seasonal climate effects on the survival of a hibernating mammal [Dataset]. Dryad.


Global climate change and associated regional climate variability is impacting the phenology of many species, ultimately altering individual fitness and population dynamics. Yet, few studies have considered the effects of pertinent seasonal climate variability on phenology and fitness. Hibernators may be particularly susceptible to changes in seasonal climate since they have a relatively short active season in which to reproduce and gain enough mass to survive the following winter. To understand whether and how seasonal climate variability may be affecting hibernator fitness, we estimated survival from historical (1964-1968) and contemporary (2014-2017) mark-recapture data collected from the same population of Uinta ground squirrels (UGS, Urocitellus armatus), a hibernator endemic to the western United States. Despite a locally warming climate, the phenology of UGS did not change over time, yet season-specific climatic variables were important in regulating survival rates. Specifically, older age classes experienced lower survival when winters or the following spring were warm, while juveniles benefited from warmer winter temperatures. Although metabolic costs decrease with decreasing temperature in the hibernacula, arousal costs increase with decreasing temperature. Our results suggest that this trade-off is experienced differently by immature and mature individuals. We also observed an increase in population density during that time period, suggesting resources are less limited today than they used to be. Cheatgrass is now dominating the study site and may provide a better food source to UGS than native plants did historically.

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