Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
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Good reindeer mothers live longer and become better in raising offspring

Robert B Weladji

Robert B Weladji

Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences, Norwegian University of Life SciencesPO Box 5003, 1432 Ås, Norway

UMR-CNRS 5558, Laboratoire de Biometrie et de Biologie Evolutive, Universite Lyon 169622 Villeurbanne Cedex, France

Department of Biology, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), University of OsloPO Box 1066 Blindern, 0316 Oslo, Norway

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Jean-Michel Gaillard

Jean-Michel Gaillard

UMR-CNRS 5558, Laboratoire de Biometrie et de Biologie Evolutive, Universite Lyon 169622 Villeurbanne Cedex, France

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Nigel G Yoccoz

Nigel G Yoccoz

Department of Biology, University of Tromsø9037 Tromsø, Norway

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Øystein Holand

Øystein Holand

Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences, Norwegian University of Life SciencesPO Box 5003, 1432 Ås, Norway

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Atle Mysterud

Atle Mysterud

Department of Biology, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), University of OsloPO Box 1066 Blindern, 0316 Oslo, Norway

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Anne Loison

Anne Loison

UMR-CNRS 5558, Laboratoire de Biometrie et de Biologie Evolutive, Universite Lyon 169622 Villeurbanne Cedex, France

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Mauri Nieminen

Mauri Nieminen

Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute, Reindeer Research Station99910 Kaamanen, Finland

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Nils Chr Stenseth

Nils Chr Stenseth

Department of Biology, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), University of OsloPO Box 1066 Blindern, 0316 Oslo, Norway

[email protected]

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Published:https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2005.3393

    Longevity is the main factor influencing individual fitness of long-lived, iteroparous species. Theories of life history evolution suggest this is because increased longevity allows individuals to (i) have more breeding attempts (time component), (ii) accumulate experience so as to become better able to rear offspring (experience component) or (iii) because individuals reaching old age have above-average quality (quality component). We assess empirically the relative influences of time, experience and quality on the relationship between longevity and individual fitness among female reindeer. Fitness increased with longevity due to all three processes. All females increased in success with age up to their penultimate year of life (experience component), the success of the terminal-breeding occasion was strongly dependent on longevity. Long-lived females had more successful breeding attempts during their life (time component), and had higher reproductive success at all ages, especially during the last year of life (individual quality component) than short-lived females. Our study reveals a more complex relationship between longevity and fitness in large mammals than the simple increase of the number of reproductive attempts when living longer.

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