Effects of food addition on life history of Yellow-Bellied Marmots
AbstractWe provided two social groups with supplemental food for several years (River Colony, June 1996–August 2000 and Marmot Meadow, June 1998–August 2000) to examine the effects of food addition on life history characteristics of female Yellow-bellied Marmots (Marmota flaviventris). We compared demographic and life history characteristics of supplemented females and reference females living within the same colony but adjacent home ranges. Supplemental food did not increase growth rates during gestation and lactation; however, growth rates of supplemented mothers increased after young were weaned. There was no clear effect of food addition on survival rates, female recruitment, age of first reproduction, or reproductive effort, such as increased litter size or weaning masses of young. Social structure of yellow-bellied marmots is most likely the main factor influencing life-history characteristics and the role of food availability is minor.
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