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Shrinking Alpine chamois: higher spring temperatures over the last 27 years in Switzerland are linked to a 3 kg reduction in body mass of yearlings


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  • 2024
Published in:
  • Royal Society Open Science. - London : The Royal Society. - 2024, vol. 11, no. 3
English Although climate change is considered to be partly responsible for the size change observed in numerous species, the relevance of this hypothesis for ungulates remains debated. We used body mass measurements of 5635 yearlings (i.e. 1.5 years old) of Alpine chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) harvested in September in the Swiss Alps (Ticino canton) from 1992 to 2018. In our study area, during this period, yearlings shrank by ca 3 kg while temperatures between May and July rose by 1.7°C. We identified that warmer temperatures during birth and the early suckling period (9 May to 2 July in the year of birth) had the strongest impact on yearling mass. Further analyses of year-detrended mass and temperature data indicate that this result was not simply due to changes in both variables over years, but that increases in temperature during this particularly sensitive time window for development and growth are responsible for the decrease in body mass of yearling chamois. Altogether, our results suggest that rising temperatures in the Alpine regions could significantly affect the ecology and evolution of this wild ungulate.
Faculté des sciences et de médecine
Département de Biologie
  • English
Biology, life sciences
Open access status
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