""Ecological factors such as environmental and climatic conditions affect the growth of ornaments in ungulates. Studies about their influence can reveal key information on individual life histories and detect the events that can have important evolutionary consequences. Among the ecological factors commonly thought to play a role in such ecological processes, researches have so far neglected the possible influence of the geological feature which may either promote or restrain the early investment in horn growth. This study takes into consideration a broad range of ecological factors that are expected to affect horn growth and analyses how the substrate (calcareous versus siliceous) could modify the horn size in 1,685 yearling Alpine chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) which were legally shot during 5 consecutive years in Central-Eastern Italian Alps. Interestingly, we found shorter horns in chamois shot on siliceous than on calcareous substrate, irrespective of the sex, showing how the substrate (and related ecological conditions) may affect horn growth. The substrate interacted with two ecological factors in shaping the horn size, i.e. aspect and snow cover. Differences between horn lengths recorded for chamois shot on these two substrates were less pronounced where South-facing slopes prevailed. During an average winter (about 100 days with more than 10 cm of snow on the ground) chamois horns were longer in individuals using calcareous areas, although the increase of number of days with more than 10 cm of snow on the ground had a stronger impact in reducing horn length in calcareous environment. We demonstrated that substrate, and related ecological conditions, influence horn growth. In ungulate species where ornament size is related to reproductive success, environmental factors, such as geological feature, can thus cause evolutionary consequences in the expression of ornaments and individual fitness.""
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|Titolo:||The role of geological substrate for horn growth in ungulates: a case study on Alpine chamois|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2013|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|