Victoria Crozier

Université de Sherbrooke
M.Sc. candidate

Supervisor: Fanie Pelletier
Start: 2020-08-31
Personal page


Phenotypic plasticity of reproductive traits in bighorn ewes in response to climate change
As climate change alters environmental conditions, species must be able to adapt in order to persist. One such way to adapt to a changing environment is phenotypic plasticity, which allows for a faster response to a rapidly changing environment than does evolution. However, plasticity is not always adaptive. It has been recently found that bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) have altered the timing in which they give birth in response to a change in environmental conditions in the fall, giving birth an average of fifteen days earlier in the spring than 25 years ago. However, spring conditions have not changed to the same extent. Bighorn ewes greatly increase their energy expenditure while lactating, and partially compensate by increasing food uptake. Earlier parturition creates a mismatch between reproductive phenology and optimal environmental spring conditions. My project aims to evaluate whether mother mass gain is impacted when the birth of their lamb is mistimed with spring conditions, and if so, whether there is a consequence on their fitness measure by the female survival in the following winter and the probability of giving birth in the next year. 


Phenotypic plasticity, climate change, Bighorn sheep, Ovis canadensis, Phenology, reproduction, Life history