Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/25127
Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Environmental change and long-term body mass declines in an alpine mammal
Authors: Mason, Tom H E
Apollonio, Marco
Chirichella, Roberta
Willis, Stephen G
Stephens, Philip A
Keywords: Body size
Body mass
Chamois
Climate change
Environmental change
Hunting
NDVI
Population density
Temperature
Ungulate
Issue Date: 27-Sep-2014
Citation: Mason THE, Apollonio M, Chirichella R, Willis SG & Stephens PA (2014) Environmental change and long-term body mass declines in an alpine mammal, Frontiers in Zoology, 11 (1), Art. No.: 69.
Abstract: Introduction:  Climate and environmental change have driven widespread changes in body size, particularly declines, across a range of taxonomic groups in recent decades. Size declines could substantially impact on the functioning of ecosystems. To date, most studies suggest that temporal trends in size have resulted indirectly from climate change modifying resource availability and quality, affecting the ability of individuals to acquire resources and grow.  Results:  Here, we investigate striking long-term body mass declines in juvenile Alpine chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), within three neighbouring populations in the Italian Alps. We find strong evidence that increasing population density and warming temperatures during spring and summer are linked to the mass declines. We find no evidence that the timing or productivity of resources have been altered during this period.  Conclusions:  We conclude that it is unlikely that environmental change has driven body size change indirectly via effects on resource productivity or phenology. Instead, we propose that environmental change has limited the ability of individuals to acquire resources. This could be due to increases in the intensity of competition and decreases in time spent foraging, owing to high temperatures. Our findings add weight to a growing body of evidence for long-term body size reductions and provide considerable insight into the potential drivers of such trends. Furthermore, we highlight the potential for appropriate management, for instance increases in harvest size, to counteract the impacts of climate change on body mass. © 2014 Mason et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
DOI Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12983-014-0069-6
Rights: © Mason et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014 This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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