Van de Walle Joanie

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Van de Walle
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  • Article
    The interplay between hunting rate, hunting selectivity, and reproductive strategies shapes population dynamics of a large carnivore
    (Wiley Open Access, 2021-05-05) Van de Walle, Joanie ; Pelletier, Fanie ; Zedrosser, Andreas ; Swenson, Jon E. ; Jenouvrier, Stephanie ; Bischof, Richard
    Harvest, through its intensity and regulation, often results in selection on female reproductive traits. Changes in female traits can have demographic consequences, as they are fundamental in shaping population dynamics. It is thus imperative to understand and quantify the demographic consequences of changes in female reproductive traits to better understand and anticipate population trajectories under different harvest intensities and regulations. Here, using a dynamic, frequency-dependent, population model of the intensively hunted brown bear (Ursus arctos) population in Sweden, we quantify and compare population responses to changes in four reproductive traits susceptible to harvest-induced selection: litter size, weaning age, age at first reproduction, and annual probability to reproduce. We did so for different hunting quotas and under four possible hunting regulations: (i) no individuals are protected, (ii) mothers but not dependent offspring are protected, (iii) mothers and dependent offspring of the year (cubs) are protected, and (iv) entire family groups are protected (i.e., mothers and dependent offspring of any age). We found that population growth rate declines sharply with increasing hunting quotas. Increases in litter size and the probability to reproduce have the greatest potential to affect population growth rate. Population growth rate increases the most when mothers are protected. Adding protection on offspring (of any age), however, reduces the availability of bears for hunting, which feeds back to increase hunting pressure on the nonprotected categories of individuals, leading to reduced population growth. Finally, we found that changes in reproductive traits can dampen population declines at very high hunting quotas, but only when protecting mothers. Our results illustrate that changes in female reproductive traits may have context-dependent consequences for demography. Thus, to predict population consequences of harvest-induced selection in wild populations, it is critical to integrate both hunting intensity and regulation, especially if hunting selectivity targets female reproductive strategies.
  • Article
    Different proxies, different stories? Imperfect correlations and different determinants of fitness in bighorn sheep
    (Wiley Open Access, 2022-12-08) Van de Walle, Joanie ; Larue, Benjamin ; Pigeon, Gabriel ; Pelletier, Fanie
    Measuring individual fitness empirically is required to assess selective pressures and predicts evolutionary changes in nature. There is, however, little consensus on how fitness should be empirically estimated. As fitness proxies vary in their underlying assumptions, their relative sensitivity to individual, environmental, and demographic factors may also vary. Here, using a long-term study, we aimed at identifying the determinants of individual fitness in bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) using seven fitness proxies. Specifically, we compared four-lifetime fitness proxies: lifetime breeding success, lifetime reproductive success, individual growth rate, individual contribution to population growth, and three multi-generational proxies: number of granddaughters, individual descendance in the next generation, and relative genetic contribution to the next generation. We found that all proxies were positively correlated, but the magnitude of the correlations varied substantially. Longevity was the main determinant of most fitness proxies. Individual fitness calculated over more than one generation was also affected by population density and growth rate. Because they are affected by contrasting factors, our study suggests that different fitness proxies should not be used interchangeably as they may convey different information about selective pressures and lead to divergent evolutionary predictions. Uncovering the mechanisms underlying variation in individual fitness and improving our ability to predict evolutionary change might require the use of several, rather than one, the proxy of individual fitness.