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1 February 2013 Life-history strategies of North American elk: trade-offs associated with reproduction and survival
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The principle of energy allocation states that individuals should attempt to maximize fitness by allocating resources optimally among growth, maintenance, and reproduction. Such allocation may result in trade-offs between survival and reproduction, or between current and future reproduction. We used a marked population of North American elk (Cervus elaphus) to determine how energetic costs of reproduction in the current year affect survival and reproduction in the subsequent year. Using a multistate mark–recapture model we examined the influence of individual and environmental variation on trade-offs between these 2 life-history traits. We observed no difference in survival probabilities between pregnant and nonpregnant individuals or as a function of recruiting an offspring. Nonetheless, there was a negative effect of recruiting an offspring in the current year on becoming pregnant the following year. Increased body condition, and higher precipitation, contributed to greater probabilities of becoming pregnant in a particular year regardless of reproductive state and previous recruitment. Costs associated with reproduction led to a reduced probability of future reproduction rather than a reduction in survival. These findings are consistent with risk-sensitive reproductive allocation, where adult survival is maintained through variation in reproductive effort resulting in high and stable adult survival and more-variable reproduction.

Sabrina Morano, Kelley M. Stewart, James S. Sedinger, Christopher A. Nicolai, and Martin Vavra "Life-history strategies of North American elk: trade-offs associated with reproduction and survival," Journal of Mammalogy 94(1), 162-172, (1 February 2013).
Received: 21 March 2012; Accepted: 1 July 2012; Published: 1 February 2013

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