Royal Society Publishing

The Adaptive Significance of Reproductive Strategies in Ungulates

Bernt-Erik Saether , Iain James Gordon

Abstract

We examine the relation between litter size, gestation length, neonate mass and growth rate among ungulates. By using a recent method for analysing comparative data, we show that ungulates can be divided along a slow-fast continuum, even after accounting for the effects of maternal body mass and common ancestry. Some species produce many small offspring during a short period, whereas others take a long time to raise a single large offspring. These differences in life-history strategy are associated with diet, i.e. browsers have relatively larger litters and smaller neonates than grazers.