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Chipmunk body mass variations and life-histories in a pulsed resource ecosystem

Cite this dataset

Bergeron, Patrick (2022). Chipmunk body mass variations and life-histories in a pulsed resource ecosystem [Dataset]. Dryad.


Phenotypic plasticity is the most immediate mechanism of adaptative response to environmental change. Studying plastic changes in response to fluctuating environments provides insights into how such adjustments may impact life-history traits. Here, we used a 14-year dataset of repeated body mass measurements in male eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus) to assess the extent of plastic changes for this trait in a resource pulse ecosystem. We first determined the magnitude of variation in body mass at the population level in response to the drastic change in food resource availability from American beech tree seeds (Fagus grandifolia). Males that emerged in the spring from winter torpor following a non-mast year had a lower body mass than males emerging after a mast year, but they tended to recover this loss by mid-June. We found significant among-individual variation in spring body mass plasticity (i.e., individual by environment interaction, I x E). We then investigated the relationships between individual spring body mass plasticity, longevity and lifetime reproductive success. Interestingly, heavier males lived longer than lighter males, but more plastic males had a lower longevity and lower lifetime reproductive success than less plastic males. The report of such plastic response in a stochastic resource system provides valuable insights into the interplay between the costs and benefits of phenotypic plasticity as an adaptation to environmental fluctuations.