Indirect population dynamic benefits of altered life-history trade-offs in response to egg harvesting
Butler, S. J., Benton, T. G., Nicoll, M. A. C., Jones, C. G. and Norris, K. (2009) Indirect population dynamic benefits of altered life-history trade-offs in response to egg harvesting. American Naturalist, 174 (1). pp. 111-121. ISSN 0003-0147
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1086/599295
Variations in demographic rates due to differential resource allocation between individuals are important considerations in the development of accurate population dynamic models. Systematic harvesting can alter age structure and/or reduce population density, conferring indirect positive benefits on the source population as a result of a consequent redistribution of resources between the remaining individuals. Independently of effects mediated through changes in density and competition, demographic rates can also be influenced by within-individual competition for resources. Harvesting dependent life stages can reduce an individual's current reproductive costs, allowing increased investment in its future fecundity and survival. Although such changes in demographic rates are well known, there has been little exploration of the potential impact on population dynamics. We use empirical data collected from a successfully reintroduced population of the Mauritius kestrel Falco punctatus to explore the population consequences of manipulating reproductive effort through harvesting. Consequent increases in an individual's future fecundity and survival allow source populations to withstand longer and more intensive harvesting regimes without being exposed to an increase in extinction risk, increasing maximum sustainable yields. These effects may also buffer populations against the impacts of stochastic events, but directional shifts in environmental conditions that increase reproductive costs may have detrimental population-level effects.