Investigating how and why the life history and demographic traits of a species vary across its range is fundamental to understand its evolution and population ecology and then develop sustainable management recommendations. At the margins of a species' distribution range, populations are expected to exhibit a slower pace of life than in core areas, making them less able to withstand pressures that impact survival. To explore these questions, we estimated age and sex-dependent seasonal survival probabilities using 305 radio-tagged birds monitored over a 18-year period in two alpine rock ptarmigan populations at the southern limit of their distribution, one in the Alps and one in the Pyrenees. We also estimated fecundity of both populations and then conducted sensitivity analysis as well as population viability analyses using deterministic and stochastic population models. Annual survival probability was high in both populations (0.65 for adults and 0.60 for juveniles), but reproductive success was much lower in the Alps (0.55 chicks per hen in the Alps vs 1.19 in the Pyrenees). The results showed that adult survival was the most sensitive demographic parameter. While population in the Pyrenees was stable (λ=1.01; 0.87–1.16), the other in the Alps appeared to be strongly declining (λ=0.81; 0.72–0.91) and this difference was clearly driven by differences of fecundity. While our findings confirm that our peripheral populations are associated with a slower pace of life, they present the particularity to be situated both at the edge and at high altitude. A more systematic study of peripheral population at higher latitude or on island may provide new insight on inter-pop variations of pace of life that would be useful for manager of these cold-adapted species. Key-words: Life history traits, demography, matrix model, telemetry, population viability analysis, age-class survival, fecundity.
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