Contrasting effects of summer and winter warming on body mass explain population dynamics in a food-limited Arctic herbivore

Steve D Albon, R Justin Irvine, Odd Halvorsen, Rolf Langvatn, Leif E Loe, Erik Ropstad, Vebjørn Veiberg, René van der Wal, Eirin M Bjørkvoll, Elizabeth I Duff, Brage Bremset Hansen, Aline M Lee, Torkild Tveraa, Audun Stien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The cumulative effects of climate warming on herbivore vital rates and population dynamics are hard to predict, given that the expected effects differ between seasons. In the Arctic, warmer summers enhance plant growth which should lead to heavier and more fertile individuals in the autumn. Conversely, warm spells in winter with rainfall (rain-on-snow) can cause 'icing', restricting access to forage, resulting in starvation, lower survival and fecundity. Since body condition is a 'barometer' of energy demands relative to energy intake, we explored the causes and consequences of variation in body mass of wild female Svalbard reindeer (Rangifer tarandus platyrhynchus) from 1994-2015, a period of marked climate warming. Late winter (April) body mass explained 88% of the between-year variation in population growth rate, because it strongly influenced reproductive loss, and hence subsequent fecundity (92%), as well as survival (94%) and recruitment (93%). Autumn (October) body mass affected ovulation rates but did not affect fecundity. April body mass showed no long-term trend (Coefficient of variation, CV = 8.8%) but was higher following warm autumn (October) weather, reflecting delays in winter onset, but most strongly, and negatively, related to 'rain-on-snow' events. October body mass (CV =2.5%) increased over the study due to higher plant productivity in the increasingly warm summers. Density-dependent mass change suggested competition for resources in both winter and summer but was less pronounced in recent years, despite an increasing population size. While continued climate warming is expected to increase the carrying capacity of the high Arctic tundra, it is also likely to cause more frequent icing-events. Our analyses suggest that these contrasting effects may cause larger seasonal fluctuations in body mass and vital rates. Overall our findings provide an important 'missing' mechanistic link in the current understanding of the population biology of a keystone species in a rapidly warming Arctic. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1374–1389
Number of pages16
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Volume23
Issue number4
Early online date6 Aug 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017

Fingerprint

Population dynamics
body mass
Rain
herbivore
population dynamics
warming
Snow
food
winter
summer
Barometers
fecundity
autumn
climate
snow
Productivity
keystone species
body condition
tundra
carrying capacity

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • density dependence
  • extreme events
  • icing
  • nutrition
  • primary production
  • Rangifer
  • Reindeer
  • Svalbard
  • weather

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)

Cite this

Albon, S. D., Irvine, R. J., Halvorsen, O., Langvatn, R., Loe, L. E., Ropstad, E., ... Stien, A. (2017). Contrasting effects of summer and winter warming on body mass explain population dynamics in a food-limited Arctic herbivore. Global Change Biology, 23(4), 1374–1389. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.13435

Contrasting effects of summer and winter warming on body mass explain population dynamics in a food-limited Arctic herbivore. / Albon, Steve D; Irvine, R Justin; Halvorsen, Odd; Langvatn, Rolf; Loe, Leif E; Ropstad, Erik; Veiberg, Vebjørn; van der Wal, René; Bjørkvoll, Eirin M; Duff, Elizabeth I; Hansen, Brage Bremset; Lee, Aline M; Tveraa, Torkild; Stien, Audun.

In: Global Change Biology, Vol. 23, No. 4, 01.04.2017, p. 1374–1389.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Albon, SD, Irvine, RJ, Halvorsen, O, Langvatn, R, Loe, LE, Ropstad, E, Veiberg, V, van der Wal, R, Bjørkvoll, EM, Duff, EI, Hansen, BB, Lee, AM, Tveraa, T & Stien, A 2017, 'Contrasting effects of summer and winter warming on body mass explain population dynamics in a food-limited Arctic herbivore', Global Change Biology, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 1374–1389. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.13435
Albon, Steve D ; Irvine, R Justin ; Halvorsen, Odd ; Langvatn, Rolf ; Loe, Leif E ; Ropstad, Erik ; Veiberg, Vebjørn ; van der Wal, René ; Bjørkvoll, Eirin M ; Duff, Elizabeth I ; Hansen, Brage Bremset ; Lee, Aline M ; Tveraa, Torkild ; Stien, Audun. / Contrasting effects of summer and winter warming on body mass explain population dynamics in a food-limited Arctic herbivore. In: Global Change Biology. 2017 ; Vol. 23, No. 4. pp. 1374–1389.
@article{d5cc2604d7464843a765cde9d64a92cf,
title = "Contrasting effects of summer and winter warming on body mass explain population dynamics in a food-limited Arctic herbivore",
abstract = "The cumulative effects of climate warming on herbivore vital rates and population dynamics are hard to predict, given that the expected effects differ between seasons. In the Arctic, warmer summers enhance plant growth which should lead to heavier and more fertile individuals in the autumn. Conversely, warm spells in winter with rainfall (rain-on-snow) can cause 'icing', restricting access to forage, resulting in starvation, lower survival and fecundity. Since body condition is a 'barometer' of energy demands relative to energy intake, we explored the causes and consequences of variation in body mass of wild female Svalbard reindeer (Rangifer tarandus platyrhynchus) from 1994-2015, a period of marked climate warming. Late winter (April) body mass explained 88{\%} of the between-year variation in population growth rate, because it strongly influenced reproductive loss, and hence subsequent fecundity (92{\%}), as well as survival (94{\%}) and recruitment (93{\%}). Autumn (October) body mass affected ovulation rates but did not affect fecundity. April body mass showed no long-term trend (Coefficient of variation, CV = 8.8{\%}) but was higher following warm autumn (October) weather, reflecting delays in winter onset, but most strongly, and negatively, related to 'rain-on-snow' events. October body mass (CV =2.5{\%}) increased over the study due to higher plant productivity in the increasingly warm summers. Density-dependent mass change suggested competition for resources in both winter and summer but was less pronounced in recent years, despite an increasing population size. While continued climate warming is expected to increase the carrying capacity of the high Arctic tundra, it is also likely to cause more frequent icing-events. Our analyses suggest that these contrasting effects may cause larger seasonal fluctuations in body mass and vital rates. Overall our findings provide an important 'missing' mechanistic link in the current understanding of the population biology of a keystone species in a rapidly warming Arctic. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.",
keywords = "Climate change, density dependence, extreme events, icing, nutrition, primary production, Rangifer, Reindeer, Svalbard, weather",
author = "Albon, {Steve D} and Irvine, {R Justin} and Odd Halvorsen and Rolf Langvatn and Loe, {Leif E} and Erik Ropstad and Vebj{\o}rn Veiberg and {van der Wal}, Ren{\'e} and Bj{\o}rkvoll, {Eirin M} and Duff, {Elizabeth I} and Hansen, {Brage Bremset} and Lee, {Aline M} and Torkild Tveraa and Audun Stien",
note = "ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We thank the Governor of Svalbard for permission to undertaker the research. We are especially grateful to Steve Coulson, and the logistical and technical staff at the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) for supporting the field campaigns. The data collection would not have been possible without the contribution of numerous field assistants, including veterinary students from the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science. Statistical advice was provided by Mark Brewer and David Elston, BioSS. The work was supported mainly by grants from U.K. Natural Environment Research Council the Norwegian Research Council, and the Macaulay Development Trust. Additional financial support has come from the Amundsen Foundation, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, The Macaulay Institute, the NINA, UNIS, and the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science",
year = "2017",
month = "4",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1111/gcb.13435",
language = "English",
volume = "23",
pages = "1374–1389",
journal = "Global Change Biology",
issn = "1354-1013",
publisher = "John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (10.1111)",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Contrasting effects of summer and winter warming on body mass explain population dynamics in a food-limited Arctic herbivore

AU - Albon, Steve D

AU - Irvine, R Justin

AU - Halvorsen, Odd

AU - Langvatn, Rolf

AU - Loe, Leif E

AU - Ropstad, Erik

AU - Veiberg, Vebjørn

AU - van der Wal, René

AU - Bjørkvoll, Eirin M

AU - Duff, Elizabeth I

AU - Hansen, Brage Bremset

AU - Lee, Aline M

AU - Tveraa, Torkild

AU - Stien, Audun

N1 - ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We thank the Governor of Svalbard for permission to undertaker the research. We are especially grateful to Steve Coulson, and the logistical and technical staff at the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) for supporting the field campaigns. The data collection would not have been possible without the contribution of numerous field assistants, including veterinary students from the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science. Statistical advice was provided by Mark Brewer and David Elston, BioSS. The work was supported mainly by grants from U.K. Natural Environment Research Council the Norwegian Research Council, and the Macaulay Development Trust. Additional financial support has come from the Amundsen Foundation, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, The Macaulay Institute, the NINA, UNIS, and the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science

PY - 2017/4/1

Y1 - 2017/4/1

N2 - The cumulative effects of climate warming on herbivore vital rates and population dynamics are hard to predict, given that the expected effects differ between seasons. In the Arctic, warmer summers enhance plant growth which should lead to heavier and more fertile individuals in the autumn. Conversely, warm spells in winter with rainfall (rain-on-snow) can cause 'icing', restricting access to forage, resulting in starvation, lower survival and fecundity. Since body condition is a 'barometer' of energy demands relative to energy intake, we explored the causes and consequences of variation in body mass of wild female Svalbard reindeer (Rangifer tarandus platyrhynchus) from 1994-2015, a period of marked climate warming. Late winter (April) body mass explained 88% of the between-year variation in population growth rate, because it strongly influenced reproductive loss, and hence subsequent fecundity (92%), as well as survival (94%) and recruitment (93%). Autumn (October) body mass affected ovulation rates but did not affect fecundity. April body mass showed no long-term trend (Coefficient of variation, CV = 8.8%) but was higher following warm autumn (October) weather, reflecting delays in winter onset, but most strongly, and negatively, related to 'rain-on-snow' events. October body mass (CV =2.5%) increased over the study due to higher plant productivity in the increasingly warm summers. Density-dependent mass change suggested competition for resources in both winter and summer but was less pronounced in recent years, despite an increasing population size. While continued climate warming is expected to increase the carrying capacity of the high Arctic tundra, it is also likely to cause more frequent icing-events. Our analyses suggest that these contrasting effects may cause larger seasonal fluctuations in body mass and vital rates. Overall our findings provide an important 'missing' mechanistic link in the current understanding of the population biology of a keystone species in a rapidly warming Arctic. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

AB - The cumulative effects of climate warming on herbivore vital rates and population dynamics are hard to predict, given that the expected effects differ between seasons. In the Arctic, warmer summers enhance plant growth which should lead to heavier and more fertile individuals in the autumn. Conversely, warm spells in winter with rainfall (rain-on-snow) can cause 'icing', restricting access to forage, resulting in starvation, lower survival and fecundity. Since body condition is a 'barometer' of energy demands relative to energy intake, we explored the causes and consequences of variation in body mass of wild female Svalbard reindeer (Rangifer tarandus platyrhynchus) from 1994-2015, a period of marked climate warming. Late winter (April) body mass explained 88% of the between-year variation in population growth rate, because it strongly influenced reproductive loss, and hence subsequent fecundity (92%), as well as survival (94%) and recruitment (93%). Autumn (October) body mass affected ovulation rates but did not affect fecundity. April body mass showed no long-term trend (Coefficient of variation, CV = 8.8%) but was higher following warm autumn (October) weather, reflecting delays in winter onset, but most strongly, and negatively, related to 'rain-on-snow' events. October body mass (CV =2.5%) increased over the study due to higher plant productivity in the increasingly warm summers. Density-dependent mass change suggested competition for resources in both winter and summer but was less pronounced in recent years, despite an increasing population size. While continued climate warming is expected to increase the carrying capacity of the high Arctic tundra, it is also likely to cause more frequent icing-events. Our analyses suggest that these contrasting effects may cause larger seasonal fluctuations in body mass and vital rates. Overall our findings provide an important 'missing' mechanistic link in the current understanding of the population biology of a keystone species in a rapidly warming Arctic. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

KW - Climate change

KW - density dependence

KW - extreme events

KW - icing

KW - nutrition

KW - primary production

KW - Rangifer

KW - Reindeer

KW - Svalbard

KW - weather

U2 - 10.1111/gcb.13435

DO - 10.1111/gcb.13435

M3 - Article

VL - 23

SP - 1374

EP - 1389

JO - Global Change Biology

JF - Global Change Biology

SN - 1354-1013

IS - 4

ER -