Climate and mammalian life histories

Jácint Tökölyi, Júlia Schmidt, Z. Barta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Mammals display considerable geographical variation in life history traits. To understand how climatic factors might influence this variation, we analysed the relationship between life history traits - adult body size, litter size, number of litters per year, gestation length, neonate body mass, weaning age and age at sexual maturity - and several environmental variables quantifying the seasonality and predictability of temperature and precipitation across the distribution range of five terrestrial mammal groups. Environmental factors correlated strongly with each other; therefore, we used principal components analysis to obtain orthogonal climatic predictors that could be used in multivariate models. We found that in bats, primates and even-toed ungulates adult body size tends to be larger in species inhabiting cold, dry, seasonal environments, whereas in carnivores and rodents a smaller body size is characteristic of warm, dry environments, suggesting that low food availability might limit adult size. Species inhabiting cold, dry, seasonal habitats have fewer, larger litters and shorter gestation periods; however, annual fecundity in these species is not higher, implying that the large litter size of mammals living at high latitudes is probably a consequence of time constraints imposed by strong seasonality. On the other hand, the number of litters per year and annual fecundity were greater in species inhabiting environments with higher seasonality in precipitation. Lastly, we found little evidence for specific effects of environmental variability. Our results highlight the complex effects of environmental factors in the evolution of life history traits in mammals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)719-736
Number of pages18
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Volume111
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Fingerprint

life history
mammal
life history trait
litters (young animals)
mammals
seasonality
climate
body size
litter size
litter
pregnancy
environmental factors
fecundity
environmental factor
gestation period
weaning
neonate
dry environmental conditions
sexual maturity
climatic factors

Keywords

  • Body size
  • Comparative analysis
  • Macroecology
  • Predictability
  • Reproductive traits
  • Seasonality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Climate and mammalian life histories. / Tökölyi, Jácint; Schmidt, Júlia; Barta, Z.

In: Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, Vol. 111, No. 4, 2014, p. 719-736.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Tökölyi, Jácint ; Schmidt, Júlia ; Barta, Z. / Climate and mammalian life histories. In: Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 2014 ; Vol. 111, No. 4. pp. 719-736.
@article{15b33a00b64744d28091af54ec74b96f,
title = "Climate and mammalian life histories",
abstract = "Mammals display considerable geographical variation in life history traits. To understand how climatic factors might influence this variation, we analysed the relationship between life history traits - adult body size, litter size, number of litters per year, gestation length, neonate body mass, weaning age and age at sexual maturity - and several environmental variables quantifying the seasonality and predictability of temperature and precipitation across the distribution range of five terrestrial mammal groups. Environmental factors correlated strongly with each other; therefore, we used principal components analysis to obtain orthogonal climatic predictors that could be used in multivariate models. We found that in bats, primates and even-toed ungulates adult body size tends to be larger in species inhabiting cold, dry, seasonal environments, whereas in carnivores and rodents a smaller body size is characteristic of warm, dry environments, suggesting that low food availability might limit adult size. Species inhabiting cold, dry, seasonal habitats have fewer, larger litters and shorter gestation periods; however, annual fecundity in these species is not higher, implying that the large litter size of mammals living at high latitudes is probably a consequence of time constraints imposed by strong seasonality. On the other hand, the number of litters per year and annual fecundity were greater in species inhabiting environments with higher seasonality in precipitation. Lastly, we found little evidence for specific effects of environmental variability. Our results highlight the complex effects of environmental factors in the evolution of life history traits in mammals.",
keywords = "Body size, Comparative analysis, Macroecology, Predictability, Reproductive traits, Seasonality",
author = "J{\'a}cint T{\"o}k{\"o}lyi and J{\'u}lia Schmidt and Z. Barta",
year = "2014",
doi = "10.1111/bij.12238",
language = "English",
volume = "111",
pages = "719--736",
journal = "Biological Journal of the Linnean Society",
issn = "0024-4066",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Climate and mammalian life histories

AU - Tökölyi, Jácint

AU - Schmidt, Júlia

AU - Barta, Z.

PY - 2014

Y1 - 2014

N2 - Mammals display considerable geographical variation in life history traits. To understand how climatic factors might influence this variation, we analysed the relationship between life history traits - adult body size, litter size, number of litters per year, gestation length, neonate body mass, weaning age and age at sexual maturity - and several environmental variables quantifying the seasonality and predictability of temperature and precipitation across the distribution range of five terrestrial mammal groups. Environmental factors correlated strongly with each other; therefore, we used principal components analysis to obtain orthogonal climatic predictors that could be used in multivariate models. We found that in bats, primates and even-toed ungulates adult body size tends to be larger in species inhabiting cold, dry, seasonal environments, whereas in carnivores and rodents a smaller body size is characteristic of warm, dry environments, suggesting that low food availability might limit adult size. Species inhabiting cold, dry, seasonal habitats have fewer, larger litters and shorter gestation periods; however, annual fecundity in these species is not higher, implying that the large litter size of mammals living at high latitudes is probably a consequence of time constraints imposed by strong seasonality. On the other hand, the number of litters per year and annual fecundity were greater in species inhabiting environments with higher seasonality in precipitation. Lastly, we found little evidence for specific effects of environmental variability. Our results highlight the complex effects of environmental factors in the evolution of life history traits in mammals.

AB - Mammals display considerable geographical variation in life history traits. To understand how climatic factors might influence this variation, we analysed the relationship between life history traits - adult body size, litter size, number of litters per year, gestation length, neonate body mass, weaning age and age at sexual maturity - and several environmental variables quantifying the seasonality and predictability of temperature and precipitation across the distribution range of five terrestrial mammal groups. Environmental factors correlated strongly with each other; therefore, we used principal components analysis to obtain orthogonal climatic predictors that could be used in multivariate models. We found that in bats, primates and even-toed ungulates adult body size tends to be larger in species inhabiting cold, dry, seasonal environments, whereas in carnivores and rodents a smaller body size is characteristic of warm, dry environments, suggesting that low food availability might limit adult size. Species inhabiting cold, dry, seasonal habitats have fewer, larger litters and shorter gestation periods; however, annual fecundity in these species is not higher, implying that the large litter size of mammals living at high latitudes is probably a consequence of time constraints imposed by strong seasonality. On the other hand, the number of litters per year and annual fecundity were greater in species inhabiting environments with higher seasonality in precipitation. Lastly, we found little evidence for specific effects of environmental variability. Our results highlight the complex effects of environmental factors in the evolution of life history traits in mammals.

KW - Body size

KW - Comparative analysis

KW - Macroecology

KW - Predictability

KW - Reproductive traits

KW - Seasonality

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84897372635&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84897372635&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/bij.12238

DO - 10.1111/bij.12238

M3 - Article

VL - 111

SP - 719

EP - 736

JO - Biological Journal of the Linnean Society

JF - Biological Journal of the Linnean Society

SN - 0024-4066

IS - 4

ER -