REDUCED COST OF REPRODUCTION IN MOOSE ALCES ALCES THROUGH HUMAN HARVEST
In life history theory there is a cost related with all resource allocation. For female moose (Alces alces), the cost of reproduction in terms of survival may be reduced for females if calves, or cows without calves, are selectively hunted during the fall. Cows with calves might experience higher hunting survival and therefore face a reduced trade-off between survival and reproduction. This hypothesis was tested during a 7-year study in northern Sweden. Females age and whether she had given birth or not best explained female moose survival during the hunting period, not the number of calves born or alive at the hunt. Still, the analysis suggests that the cost of reproduction was reduced for middle-aged females. Females not giving birth experienced a 3.2-fold greater risk of being harvested comparted to those giving birth. This suggests that the application of life-history theory is crucial to fully understand the evolutionary consequences of management decisions on heavily harvested populations of ungulates.
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