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Abstract

In large-herbivore populations, environmental variation and density dependence co-occur and have similar effects on various fitness components. Our review aims to quantify the temporal variability of fitness components and examine how that variability affects changes in population growth rates. Regardless of the source of variation, adult female survival shows little year-to-year variation [coefficient of variation (CV <10%)], fecundity of prime-aged females and yearling survival rates show moderate year-to-year variation (CV <20%), and juvenile survival and fecundity of young females show strong variation (CV >30%). Old females show senescence in both survival and reproduction. These patterns of variation are independent of differences in body mass, taxonomic group, and ecological conditions. Differences in levels of maternal care may fine-tune the temporal variation of early survival. The immature stage, despite a low relative impact on population growth rate compared with the adult stage, may be the critical component of population dynamics of large herbivores. Observed differences in temporal variation may be more important than estimated relative sensitivity or elasticity in determining the relative demographic impact of various fitness components.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.31.1.367
2000-11-01
2024-04-22
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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