Human Ecology

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 645–650 | Cite as

Solar Irradiance, Survival and Longevity in a Pre-industrial Human Population

  • Patrick Bergeron
  • Emmanuel Milot
  • Francine M. Mayer
  • Mireille Boisvert
  • Denis Réale
  • Fanie Pelletier


Severe environmental irregularities, such as droughts or storms that can cause massive crop failure and famine, have repeatedly taken their toll on human populations. Although more subtle climatic variations can also have considerable effects on ecological processes (Stenseth et al.2002), humans have generally been assumed to be sheltered from these influences. Young children, however, can be very sensitive to seasonal and regional variations in weather conditions and food availability, even outside periods of massive famine (Lummaa and Clutton–Brock 2002). In pre-industrial populations, infant mortality was commonly high; it was not rare that 20–30 % of newborns died annually before reaching the age of 1. The conditions experienced around birth may also have long lasting consequences on adult life-history (Lummaa and Clutton-Brock 2002). For instance, environmental effects experienced at young age, such as the one associated with the month of birth, have been shown to...


Solar Irradiance Generalize Additive Model Generalize Little Square Infant Survival High Solar Irradiance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank T. Coulson, J. Lane, D. Garant and M. Festa-Bianchet for commenting earlier versions of this manuscript. This project was funded by the Fonds Québécois de la recherche sur la nature et les technologies (postdoctoral fellowship to P.B.), by the Canada Research Chair in Behavioural Ecology (D.R.) and by the Canada Research Chair in Evolutionary Demography and Conservation (F.P.). Since 1986, the Register was computerized and updated by F.M.M., M.B., Yolande Lavoie, and Pierre Philippe, successively with the financial support of the Université de Montréal, the Fonds pour la Formation de Chercheurs et l’Aide à la Recherche du Québec, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Supplementary material

10745_2014_9671_MOESM1_ESM.doc (486 kb)
Figure S1 a) Yearly solar irradiance (W/m2) between 1770 and 1950, as calculated by Lean et al. (1995). b) Yearly Winter NAO between 1770 and 1950, as calculated by Luterbacher et al. (1999). Winter NAO is the average monthly NAO values recorded between December and March. (DOC 486 kb)
10745_2014_9671_MOESM2_ESM.doc (132 kb)
Figure S2 Yearly infant survival rate based on the île aux Coudres population Register between 1770 and 1950. The solid grey line is the smoothed variations in survival over the years, estimated with a binomial generalized additive model along with its 95 % confidence interval (dashed grey lines). (DOC 132 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick Bergeron
    • 1
    • 2
  • Emmanuel Milot
    • 1
  • Francine M. Mayer
    • 3
  • Mireille Boisvert
    • 3
  • Denis Réale
    • 3
  • Fanie Pelletier
    • 4
  1. 1.Groupe PRIMUSCentre Hospitalier Universitaire de SherbrookeSherbrookeCanada
  2. 2.Département de BiologieUniversité de SherbrookeSherbrookeCanada
  3. 3.Département des Sciences BiologiquesUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada
  4. 4.Canada Research Chair in Evolutionary Demography and ConservationDépartement de Biologie, Université de SherbrookeSherbrookeCanada

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