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Publication Detail
Birth timing generates reproductive trade-offs in a non-seasonal breeding primate
Abstract
The evolutionary benefits of reproductive seasonality are often measured by a single-fitness component, namely offspring survival. Yet different fitness components may be maximized by different birth timings. This may generate fitness trade-offs that could be critical to understanding variation in reproductive timing across individuals, populations and species. Here, we use long-term demographic and behavioural data from wild chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) living in a seasonal environment to test the adaptive significance of seasonal variation in birth frequencies. We identify two distinct optimal birth timings in the annual cycle, located four-month apart, which maximize offspring survival or minimize maternal interbirth intervals (IBIs), by respectively matching the annual food peak with late or early weaning. Observed births are the most frequent between these optima, supporting an adaptive trade-off between current and future reproduction. Furthermore, infants born closer to the optimal timing favouring maternal IBIs (instead of offspring survival) throw more tantrums, a typical manifestation of mother-offspring conflict. Maternal trade-offs over birth timing, which extend into mother-offspring conflict after birth, may commonly occur in long-lived species where development from birth to independence spans multiple seasons. Our findings therefore open new avenues to understanding the evolution of breeding phenology in long-lived animals, including humans.
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Dept of Anthropology
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