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Moose (Alces alces) parturition dates, Sweden

Citation

Neumann, Wiebke et al. (2020), Moose (Alces alces) parturition dates, Sweden, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.ghx3ffbkg

Abstract

In northern environments, the period of access to high-quality forage is limited, exerting strong selective pressure to optimize the timing of parturition. We analysed timing and variation in moose parturition dates of 555 females at 18 study sites across 12ᵒ of latitude (56-68ᵒ N, 1,350 km) in Sweden. We found evidence for a spatial match of parturition timing to vegetation onset, but no evidence that moose adjust parturition to vegetation onset in a given year. We found a breakpoint at 64ᵒ N. Despite adaptation across latitudes, temporal divergences occurred. Females <64 ᵒN calved after vegetation onset and females >64 ᵒN calved before. Here, parturition before vegetation onset might be a strategy to optimize forage utilization time with the very short growing season. Highly seasonal environments such as at higher latitudes may make it advantageous to adapt parturition towards long-term climatic patterns by matching the most favourable period. Given the direction of temporal divergence, our study suggests that climate change may have less of an impact on moose parturition at northern latitudes than southern latitudes.

Methods

Includes data on moose calving dates across 12 degrees of latitude in Sweden. More details on data collection and methods can be found in the main doucment and supplementary material of the published article (RSBL-2020-0044, Biology Letters).