Intermittent breeding and the dynamics of resource allocation to reproduction, growth and survival

Jean Pierre Baron, Jean François Le Galliard, Regis H J Ferriere, Thomas Tully

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In iteroparous organisms, the timing of reproduction varies greatly and reproduction may be intermittent. Here, we investigate the proximate determinants of intermittent breeding and their evolutionary significance in a viviparous snake, the meadow viper Vipera ursinii ursinii. We used individual life-history data collected over a 28-year capture-mark-recapture field study. Among viviparous snakes, the meadow viper's almost exclusively insectivorous diet is remarkable. Breeding females maintain substantial foraging activity during gestation. The life cycle is iteroparous, and female breeding frequency is essentially biennial. Breeding status is strongly associated with a threshold on female body condition prior to vitellogenesis. Non-breeding females grow and store fat reserves needed for future reproduction. Breeding females convert reserves into eggs, the number of which is determined by maternal size and body condition prior to vitellogenesis. During pregnancy, females stop growing. Females survive breeding and non-breeding years with equal probabilities. Our results suggest that income resources during pregnancy are used to fully cover the costs of gestation. Integration of our data into a matrix population model allowed us to relate breeding pattern to fitness. According to the model, biennial breeding is strongly favoured by natural selection if consecutive breeding decreases maternal survival and/or fecundity. Growth cessation during breeding years generates weak selection pressures for intermittent breeding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-183
Number of pages11
JournalFunctional Ecology
Volume27
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2013

Fingerprint

resource allocation
breeding
Vipera ursinii
pregnancy
vitellogenesis
body condition
snake
snakes
meadow
fat reserve
natural selection
fecundity
life cycle (organisms)
income
life history
fitness
life cycle
foraging
diet
egg

Keywords

  • Growth
  • Life-history trade-offs
  • Reproductive investment
  • Snakes
  • Survival
  • Temporal variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Intermittent breeding and the dynamics of resource allocation to reproduction, growth and survival. / Baron, Jean Pierre; Le Galliard, Jean François; Ferriere, Regis H J; Tully, Thomas.

In: Functional Ecology, Vol. 27, No. 1, 02.2013, p. 173-183.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Baron, Jean Pierre ; Le Galliard, Jean François ; Ferriere, Regis H J ; Tully, Thomas. / Intermittent breeding and the dynamics of resource allocation to reproduction, growth and survival. In: Functional Ecology. 2013 ; Vol. 27, No. 1. pp. 173-183.
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