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European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 58, Issue 1, pp 269–277 | Cite as

Reproduction of plateau pika (Ochotona curzoniae) on the Qinghai–Tibetan plateau

  • Jiapeng Qu
  • Ming Liu
  • Min Yang
  • Yanming Zhang
  • Weihong Ji
Original Paper

Abstract

The reproduction of the plateau pika (Ochotona curzoniae) was investigated in Guoluo District at an elevation of 4,000 m on the Qinghai–Tibetan plateau, China, from April 2007 to August 2008. Reproduction was seasonal, and the breeding season lasted from April to late June/early July. Adults produced two litters in each year, and the mean litter size, estimated by counting the number of embryos in utero, was 3.3 ± 0.1 (n = 52) in 2007 and 3.2 ± 0.1 (n = 66) in 2008. The timing of reproduction showed high inter-annual variation; lower precipitation and the concomitant delay in spring vegetation phenology may have retarded the onset of the breeding season in 2007 compared with 2008. The most frequent litter sizes were 3 and 4, which together comprised 71.2% and 83.3% of litters in May and June of 2007 and 2008, respectively. Compared with previous studies, reproduction was highly variable between geographic areas. Pikas produced between one and five litters per year in different regions of the plateau over different breeding seasons. This geographic and inter-annual variation appeared to be associated with the duration of plant growth at each site, suggesting that plateau pikas adjust the length of their breeding season to match the period when sufficient energy is available to support the high energy demands of reproduction.

Keywords

Ochotona curzoniae Reproduction Qinghai–Tibetan plateau Plateau pika 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by Key Innovation Research Programs of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (no. KSCX2-YW-N-06, KSCX2-YW-N-90) and grants from the “973” Project of China Ministry of Science and Technology (no. 2007CB109105). We thank the editor and two anonymous reviewers for their invaluable comments. We thank Zhibin Zhang and John R. Speakman for comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript. This study could not have been completed without the friendly help of local people in Guoluo. Our experiments complied with the laws of China.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jiapeng Qu
    • 1
  • Ming Liu
    • 2
  • Min Yang
    • 1
  • Yanming Zhang
    • 1
  • Weihong Ji
    • 3
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Adaptation and Evolution of Plateau BiotaNorthwest Institute of Plateau Biology, Chinese Academy of SciencesXiningChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Integrated Management of Pest Insects and Rodents in AgricultureInstitute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Institute of Natural SciencesMassey University, Auckland CampusAucklandNew Zealand

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