Great ranging associated with greater reproductive investment in mammals.
Most animals must travel to find food, incurring an unavoidable energy and time cost. Economic theory predicts, and experimental work confirms, that within species, increasing the distance traveled each day to find food has negative fitness consequences, decreasing the amount of energy invested in maintenance, repair, and reproduction. Here, we show that this relationship between daily distance traveled and reproductive success is fundamentally different between species and over evolutionary time in many lineages. Phylogenetically controlled analyses of 161 eutherian mammals indicate that, after controlling for body mass, evolutionary increases in the daily distance traveled are associated with corresponding increases in both total fertility (number of offspring per lifetime) and total offspring mass (grams of offspring per lifetime). This suggests that over evolutionary time, increasing travel distance is often part of a strategy for procuring more food energy and not necessarily a response to decreased food availability. These results have important implications for ecological comparisons among species, including assessments of habitat quality based on locomotor behavior.
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)