Van de Walle Joanie

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Last Name
Van de Walle
First Name
Joanie
ORCID
0000-0002-5137-1851

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Now showing 1 - 3 of 3
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Article

The interplay between hunting rate, hunting selectivity, and reproductive strategies shapes population dynamics of a large carnivore

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.

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Different proxies, different stories? Imperfect correlations and different determinants of fitness in bighorn sheep

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.

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Genetic rescue from protected areas is modulated by migration, hunting rate, and timing of harvest

2023-05-12 , Lassis, Roxane , Festa‐Bianchet, Marco , Van de Walle, Joanie , Pelletier, Fanie

In terrestrial and marine ecosystems, migrants from protected areas may buffer the risk of harvest‐induced evolutionary changes in exploited populations that face strong selective harvest pressures. Understanding the mechanisms favoring genetic rescue through migration could help ensure evolutionarily sustainable harvest outside protected areas and conserve genetic diversity inside those areas. We developed a stochastic individual‐based metapopulation model to evaluate the potential for migration from protected areas to mitigate the evolutionary consequences of selective harvest. We parameterized the model with detailed data from individual monitoring of two populations of bighorn sheep subjected to trophy hunting. We tracked horn length through time in a large protected and a trophy‐hunted populations connected through male breeding migrations. We quantified and compared declines in horn length and rescue potential under various combinations of migration rate, hunting rate in hunted areas and temporal overlap in timing of harvest and migrations, which affects the migrants' survival and chances to breed within exploited areas. Our simulations suggest that the effects of size‐selective harvest on male horn length in hunted populations can be dampened or avoided if harvest pressure is low, migration rate is substantial, and migrants leaving protected areas have a low risk of being shot. Intense size‐selective harvest impacts the phenotypic and genetic diversity in horn length, and population structure through changes in proportions of large‐horned males, sex ratio and age structure. When hunting pressure is high and overlaps with male migrations, effects of selective removal also emerge in the protected population, so that instead of a genetic rescue of hunted populations, our model predicts undesirable effects inside protected areas. Our results stress the importance of a landscape approach to management, to promote genetic rescue from protected areas and limit ecological and evolutionary impacts of harvest on both harvested and protected populations.