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Winter and spring climatic conditions influence timing and synchrony of calving in reindeer


Winter and spring climatic conditions influence timing and synchrony of calving in reindeer

Paoli, Amélie, Weladji, Robert B., Holand, Øystein and Kumpula, Jouko (2018) Winter and spring climatic conditions influence timing and synchrony of calving in reindeer. PLOS ONE, 13 (4). e0195603. ISSN 1932-6203

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0195603


In a context of climate change, a mismatch has been shown to occur between some species’ reproductive phenology and their environment. So far, few studies have either documented temporal trends in calving phenology or assessed which climatic variables influence the calving phenology in ungulate species, yet the phenology of ungulates’ births affects offspring survival and population’s recruitment rate. Using a long-term dataset (45 years) of birth dates of a semi-domesticated reindeer population in Kaamanen, North Finland, we show that calving season has advanced by ~ 7 days between 1970 and 2016. Advanced birth dates were associated with lower precipitation and a reduced snow cover in April and warmer temperatures in April-May. Improved females’ physical condition in late gestation due to warmer temperatures in April-May and reduced snow conditions in April probably accounted for such advance in calving date. On the other hand, a lengthening of the calving season was reported following a warmer temperature in January, a higher number of days when mean temperature exceeds 0°C in October-November and a decreasing snow cover from October to November. By affecting the inter-individual heterogeneity in the plastic response of females’ calving date to better climatic conditions in fall and winter, climatic variability contributed to weaken the calving synchrony in this herd. Whether variability in climatic conditions form environmental cues for the adaptation of calving phenology by females to climate change is however uncertain, but it is likely. As such this study enhances our understanding on how reproductive phenology of ungulate species would be affected by climate change.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Biology
Item Type:Article
Authors:Paoli, Amélie and Weladji, Robert B. and Holand, Øystein and Kumpula, Jouko
Journal or Publication:PLOS ONE
  • Concordia Open Access Author Fund
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, (grant number 303807)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):10.1371/journal.pone.0195603
ID Code:983952
Deposited On:13 Jun 2018 18:58
Last Modified:13 Jun 2018 18:58


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