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Large offspring have enhanced lifetime reproductive success: long-term carry-over effects of natal size in grey seals (Halichoerus grypus)
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  • Janelle Badger,
  • W. Don Bowen,
  • Cornelia den Heyer,
  • Greg Breed
Janelle Badger
NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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W. Don Bowen
Bedford Institute of Oceanography
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Cornelia den Heyer
Bedford Institute of Oceanography
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Greg Breed
University of Alaska Fairbanks
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An individual’s size in early stages of life may be an important source of individual variation in lifetime reproductive performance, as size effects on ontogenetic development can have cascading physiological and behavioral consequences throughout life. Here, we explored how natal size influences subsequent reproductive performance in grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) using repeated encounter and reproductive data on a marked sample of 363 females that were measured for length at ~4 weeks of age and eventually recruited to the Sable Island breeding colony. Two reproductive traits were considered: provisioning performance (mass of weaned offspring), modeled using linear mixed effects models; and reproductive frequency (rate at which a female returns to breed), modeled using mixed-effects multistate mark-recapture models. Mothers with the longest natal lengths produced pups 8 kg heavier and were 20% more likely to breed in a given year than mothers with the shortest lengths. Correlation in body lengths between natal and adult life stages, however, is weak: longer pups do not grow to be longer than average adults. Thus covariation between natal length and future reproductive performance appears to be a carry-over effect, where the size advantages afforded in early juvenile stages may allow enhanced long-term performance in adulthood.
31 Aug 2022Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
01 Sep 2022Submission Checks Completed
01 Sep 2022Assigned to Editor
07 Sep 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
24 Oct 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
17 Nov 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
11 Jan 20231st Revision Received
11 Jan 2023Submission Checks Completed
11 Jan 2023Assigned to Editor
11 Jan 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
25 Apr 2023Editorial Decision: Accept