Just got a paper published in Ecology and Evolution. It is basically about reindeer life history and risk sensitivity.
The theory of risk senstivity provides a mechanistic understanding of how climate affect the evolution of life history strategies.
This study utilized reindeer from Saami reindeer herds inhabiting contrasting environments in northern Norway, i.e. environments with poor and good winter climatic conditions.
An increased understanding of how individuals respond to environmental unpredictability will be vital in predicting both the demography and population viability for reindeer and other long-lived organism in the face of future climate change.
In short, the study found that reindeer have developed a risk sensitive life history because reindeer adjust the reproductive allocation according to environmental conditions:
When they experienced poor winters, reindeer allocated more resources to own body reserves than reproduction and vice versa when winter conditions were good
The full paper can be found here.
Additional papers pertaining to reindeer life history and risk
- Bårdsen, B.-J., P. Fauchald, T. Tveraa, K. Langeland, N. G. Yoccoz, and R. A. Ims. 2008. Experimental evidence for a risk sensitive reproductive allocation in a long-lived mammal. Ecology 89:829-837.
- Bårdsen, B.-J., J.-A. Henden, P. Fauchald, T. Tveraa, and A. Stien. 2011. Plastic reproductive allocation as a buffer against environmental stochasticity – linking life history and population dynamics to climate. Oikos 20:245-257.
- Bårdsen, B.-J., T. Tveraa, P. Fauchald, and K. Langeland. 2010. Observational evidence of a risk sensitive reproductive allocation in a long-lived mammal. Oecologia 162:627-639.
- Bårdsen, B.-J. 2009. Risk sensitive reproductive strategies: the effect of environmental unpredictability. Philosophiae Doctor thesis. Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway.