The internal predictive adaptive response (internal PAR) hypothesis predicts that individuals born in poor conditions should start to reproduce earlier if they are likely to have reduced performance in later life. However, whether this is the case remains unexplored in wild populations. Here, we use longitudinal data from a long-term study of Svalbard reindeer to examine age-related changes in adult female life-history responses to environmental conditions experienced in utero as indexed by rain-on-snow (ROSutero). We show that females experiencing high ROSutero had reduced reproductive success only from 7 years of age, independent of early reproduction. These individuals were able to maintain the same annual reproductive success between 2 and 6 years as phenotypically superior conspecifics that experienced low ROSutero. Young females born after high ROSutero engage in reproductive events at lower body mass (about 2.5 kg less) than those born after low ROSutero. The mean fitness of females that experienced poor environmental conditions in early life was comparable with that of females exposed to good environmental conditions in early life. These results are consistent with the idea of internal PAR and suggest that the life-history responses to early-life conditions can buffer the delayed effects of weather on population dynamics.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3494046.
- Received August 8, 2016.
- Accepted September 26, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.