Does weather affect the timing of reproduction in the hazel dormouse, Muscardinus avellanarius?

Findlay-Robinson, Rachel, Deecke, Volker B. ORCID logo ORCID: , Weatherall, Andrew ORCID logo ORCID: and Hill, Davina ORCID logo ORCID: (2020) Does weather affect the timing of reproduction in the hazel dormouse, Muscardinus avellanarius? In: Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) Winter Meeting, 3-4 December 2020, Online. (Unpublished)

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Hibernators face the challenge of fitting their annual lifecycle into a compressed active season whilst maintaining their fitness. Consequently, many hibernators mate immediately after emergence to maximize time available for offspring growth and weaning. However, dormice, the UK's only rodent hibernators and a species of conservation concern, do not generally follow this pattern across their UK range, and there is high variability in continental populations. In other hibernating species, delayed reproduction has been associated with reduced fitness, and consequent population declines. As dormouse activity levels are known to be affected by weather, we investigated the effects of weather conditions at different time throughout the year, as a proxy for climate, on the timing of reproduction in this species. We tested the effects of temperature and rainfall at weekly scaled on the timing of reproduction using the 25-year National Dormouse Monitoring Programme and Met Office HadUK Grid datasets across the dormouses' UK range. A sliding window climatic analysis was used to test climate windows for all periods for up to a year before reproduction occurred. Our results suggest that temperature and rainfall have complex effects on the timing of reproduction in dormice in both the long (up to 1 year) and short-term, and that the weather during the hibernation season may impact behaviour during the active season. As rapid environmental and climatic changes are predicted to occur in the coming decades, understanding the relationships between the weather, behaviour and dormouse demographic rates may be vital in producing future-proof conservation plans for this species.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Departments: Centre for National Parks and Protected Areas (CNPPA)
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2023 11:50
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2024 11:30


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