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The energetic and survival costs of growth in free-ranging chipmunks

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Abstract

The growth/survival trade-off is a fundamental aspect of life-history evolution that is often explained by the direct energetic requirement for growth that cannot be allocated into maintenance. However, there is currently no empirical consensus on whether fast-growing individuals have higher resting metabolic rates at thermoneutrality (RMRt) than slow growers. Moreover, the link between growth rate and daily energy expenditure (DEE) has never been tested in a wild endotherm. We assessed the energetic and survival costs of growth in juvenile eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus) during a year of low food abundance by quantifying post-emergent growth rate (n = 88), RMRt (n = 66), DEE (n = 20), and overwinter survival. Both RMRt and DEE were significantly and positively related to growth rate. The effect size was stronger for DEE than RMRt, suggesting that the energy cost of growth in wild animals is more likely to be related to the maintenance of a higher foraging rate (included in DEE) than to tissue accretion (included in RMRt). Fast growers were significantly less likely to survive the following winter compared to slow growers. Juveniles with high or low RMRt were less likely to survive winter than juveniles with intermediate RMRt. In contrast, DEE was unrelated to survival. In addition, botfly parasitism simultaneously decreased growth rate and survival, suggesting that the energetic budget of juveniles was restricted by the simultaneous costs of growth and parasitism. Although the biology of the species (seed-storing hibernator) and the context of our study (constraining environmental conditions) were ideally combined to reveal a direct relationship between current use of energy and future availability, it remains unclear whether the energetic cost of growth was directly responsible for reduced survival.

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Acknowledgments

We thank all field assistants who have helped to collect the data presented in this paper, D. Munro for coordination work, R. Morin for respirometry work, M. Landry-Cuerrier for help in the field with the DLW method, and P. Thompson and P. Redman for isotope analysis. We thank M. Chappell, J. Arendt, R. Nespolo, and an anonymous reviewer for insightful comments on previous drafts. This research was supported by a Québec FQRNT team grant, NSERC discovery grants to DR, DG, and MMH, and NSERC doctoral scholarships to VC and PB. The costs of the DLW analyses were covered by a NSERC discovery grant to Donald W. Thomas.

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Correspondence to Vincent Careau.

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Communicated by Pawel Koteja.

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Careau, V., Bergeron, P., Garant, D. et al. The energetic and survival costs of growth in free-ranging chipmunks. Oecologia 171, 11–23 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-012-2385-x

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