Capital and income breeding traits differentiate trophic match-mismatch dynamics in large herbivores

Jeffrey Kerby, Eric Post

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


For some species, climate change has altered environmental conditions away from those in which life-history strategies evolved. In such cases, if adaptation does not keep pace with these changes, existing life-history strategies may become maladaptive and lead to population declines. We use life-history theory, with a specific emphasis on breeding strategies, in the context of the trophic match-mismatch framework to form generalizable hypotheses about population-level consumer responses to climate-driven perturbations in resource availability. We first characterize the income and breeding traits of sympatric caribou and muskoxen populations in western Greenland, and then test trait-based hypotheses about the expected reproductive performance of each population during a period of high resource variability at that site. The immediate reproductive performance of income breeding caribou decreased with trophic mismatch. In contrast, capital breeding muskoxen were relatively unaffected by current breeding season resource variability, but their reproductive performance was sensitive to resource conditions from previous years. These responses matched our expectations about how capital and income breeding strategies should influence population susceptibility to phenological mismatch. We argue for a taxon-independent assessment of trophic mismatch vulnerability based on a life-history strategy perspective in the context of prevailing environmental conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1624
StatePublished - Aug 19 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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