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Predation risk and longevity influence variation in fitness of female roe deer (Capreolus capreolus L.)

Abstract : We studied the effects of population density, red fox predation risk, individual body mass and longevity on female fitness in a free-ranging roe deer population. During the study, population density varied from 9.3 to 36.1 deer km(-2), and red fox abundance varied strongly over years owing to a sarcoptic mange outbreak. In support of our predictions, long-lived females had higher fitness than short-lived ones. Further, fortunate female roe deer that gave birth in years of low red fox abundance attained much higher fitness than those that gave birth in years of high red fox abundance. Longevity and predation risk explained more than half the variation in fitness observed among roe deer females. As a possible effect of small sample size, we found no effect of female body mass or population density at birth. Our study demonstrates that predation risk, a component of environmental stochasticity, may prevent directional selection even when phenotypic quality influences individual fitness
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Petter Kjellander, Jean-Michel Gaillard, Mark Hewison, Olof Liberg. Predation risk and longevity influence variation in fitness of female roe deer (Capreolus capreolus L.). Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Royal Society, The, 2004, 271, pp.338-340. ⟨10.1098/rsbl.2004.0177⟩. ⟨hal-02678295⟩

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