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Data from: Individual quality and age but not environmental or social conditions modulate costs of reproduction in a capital breeder


Debeffe, Lucie; Poissant, Jocelyn; McLoughlin, Philip D. (2018), Data from: Individual quality and age but not environmental or social conditions modulate costs of reproduction in a capital breeder, Dryad, Dataset,


Costs associated with reproduction are widely known to play a role in the evolution of reproductive tactics with consequences to population and eco-evolutionary dynamics. Evaluating these costs as they pertain to species in the wild remains an important goal of evolutionary ecology. Individual heterogeneity, including differences in individual quality (i.e., among-individual differences in traits associated with survival and reproduction) or state, and variation in environmental and social conditions can modulate the costs of reproduction; however, few studies have considered effects of these factors simultaneously. Taking advantage of a detailed, long-term dataset for a population of feral horses (Sable Island, Nova-Scotia, Canada), we address the question of how intrinsic (quality, age), environmental (winter severity, location), and social conditions (group size, composition, sex ratio, density) influence the costs of reproduction on subsequent reproduction. Individual quality was measured using a multivariate analysis on a combination of four static and dynamic traits expected to depict heterogeneity in individual performance. Female quality and age interacted with reproductive status of the previous year to determine current reproductive effort, while no effect of social or environmental covariates was found. High quality females showed higher probabilities of giving birth and weaning their foal regardless of their reproductive status the previous year, while those of lower quality showed lower probabilities of producing foals in successive years. Middle-aged (prime) females had the highest probability of giving birth when they had not reproduced the year before but no such relationship with age was found among females that had reproduced the previous year, indicating that prime-aged females bear higher costs of reproduction. We show that individual quality and age were key factors modulating the costs of reproduction in a capital breeder but that environmental or social conditions were not, highlighting the importance of considering multiple factors when studying costs of reproduction.

Usage Notes


Nova Scotia
Nova Scotai
Sabe Island