Maternal, social and abiotic environment effects on growth vary across life stages in a cooperative mammal

Show simple item record English, Sinead Bateman, Andrew W. Mares, Rafael Ozgul, Arpat Clutton-Brock, Tim H. 2014-04-01T08:21:04Z 2014
dc.description.abstract 1. Resource availability plays a key role in driving variation in somatic growth and body condition, and the factors determining access to resources vary considerably across life stages. Parents and carers may exert important influences in early life, when individuals are nutritionally dependent, with abiotic environmental effects having stronger influences later in development as individuals forage independently. 2. Most studies have measured specific factors influencing growth across development, or have compared relative influences of different factors within specific life stages. Such studies may not capture whether early-life factors continue have delayed effects at later stages, or if social factors change when individuals become nutritionally independent and adults become competitors for, rather than providers of, food. 3. Here, we examined variation in the influence of the abiotic, social and maternal environment on growth across life stages in a wild population of cooperatively breeding meerkats. Cooperatively breeding vertebrates are ideal for investigating environmental influences on growth. In addition to experiencing highly variable abiotic conditions, cooperative breeders are typified by heterogeneity both among breeders, with mothers varying in age and social status, and in the number of carers present.4. Recent rainfall had a consistently marked effect on growth across life stages, yet other seasonal terms only influenced growth during stages when individuals were growing fastest. Group size and maternal dominance status had positive effects on growth during the period of nutritional dependence on carers, yet did not influence mass at emergence (at one month) or growth at independent stages (>4 months). Pups born to older mothers were lighter at one month of age, and subsequently grew faster as subadults. Males grew faster than females during the juvenile and subadult stage only. 5. Our findings demonstrate the complex ways in which the external environment influences development in a cooperative mammal. Individuals are most sensitive to social and maternal factors during the period of nutritional dependence on carers whereas direct environmental effects are relatively more important later in development. Understanding the way in which environmental sensitivity varies across life stages is likely to be an important consideration in predicting trait responses to environmental change. en_US
dc.description.librarian hb2014 en_US
dc.description.sponsorship Natural Environment Research Council (grant number PFZC092 to THCB). en_US
dc.description.uri en_US
dc.identifier.citation English, S, Huchard, E, Nielsen, JF & Clutton-Brock, TH 2014, 'Maternal, social and abiotic environment effects on growth vary across life stages in a cooperative mammal', Journal of Animal Ecology, NYP. en_US
dc.identifier.issn 0021-8790 (print)
dc.identifier.issn 1365-2656 (online)
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.publisher Wiley-Blackwell en_US
dc.rights © 2013 The Authors. Journal of Animal Ecology © 2013 British Ecological Society. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes. The definite version is available at : en_US
dc.subject Body mass en_US
dc.subject Carry-over effects en_US
dc.subject Cooperative breeding en_US
dc.subject Growth en_US
dc.subject Life-history en_US
dc.title Maternal, social and abiotic environment effects on growth vary across life stages in a cooperative mammal en_US
dc.type Article en_US

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