Nutritional restriction during growth can have short- and long-term effects on fitness; however, animals inhabiting uncertain environments may exhibit adaptations to cope with variation in food availability. We examined changes in body mass in free-ranging female caribou (Rangifer tarandus) by measuring mass at birth and at 4, 11, and 16 months of age to evaluate the relative importance of seasonal nutrition to growth, the persistence of cohort-specific variation in body mass through time, and compensatory growth of individuals. Relative mean body mass of cohorts did not persist through time. Compensatory growth of smaller individuals was not observed in summer; however, small calves exhibited more positive change in body mass than did large calves. Compensation occurred during periods of nutritional restriction (winter) rather than during periods of rapid growth (summer) thus differing from the conventional view of compensatory growth. ?? 2008 American Society of Mammalogists.
Additional publication details
Stochastic and compensatory effects limit persistence of variation in body mass of young caribou