The energetic and oxidative costs of reproduction in a free-ranging rodent

Patrick Bergeron* (Corresponding Author), Vincent Careau, Murray M. Humphries, Denis Réale, John R. Speakman, Dany Garant

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


1.As understanding of the energetic costs of reproduction in birds and mammals continues to improve, oxidative stress is an increasingly cited example of a non-energetic cost of reproduction that may serve as a proximal physiological link underlying life-history trade-offs. 2.Here, we provide the first study to measure daily energy expenditure (DEE) and oxidative damage in a wild population. We measured both traits on eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus) and assessed their relationships with age, reproductive status, litter size and environmental conditions. 3.We found that both physiological traits were correlated with environmental characteristics (e.g. temperature, seasons). DEE tended to increase with decreasing temperature, while oxidative damage was lower in spring, after a winter of torpor expression, than in autumn. We also found that DEE decreased with age, while oxidative damage was elevated in young individuals, reduced in animals of intermediate age and tended to increase at older age. 4.After controlling for age and environmental variables, we found that both female DEE and oxidative damage increased with litter size, although the latter increased weakly. 5.Our results corroborate findings from laboratory studies but highlight the importance of considering environmental conditions, age and reproductive status in broader analyses of the causes and consequences of physiological costs of reproduction in wild animals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1063-1071
Number of pages9
JournalFunctional Ecology
Issue number5
Early online date18 May 2011
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • Ageing
  • Field metabolic rate
  • Life-history theory
  • Litter size
  • Mammals
  • Oxidative stress
  • Wild population


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