Soay Sheep: Dynamics and Selection in an Island Population

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Soay Sheep synthesises the results of a unique study of population dynamics, selection and adaptation in a naturally regulated population of mammals. Soay sheep were first introduced to the St Kilda archipelago in the Bronze age, and to the island of Hirta in 1932, where their numbers are naturally regulated by the availability of resources. Unlike most other large mammals, their numbers show persistent fluctuations, sometimes increasing or declining by more than 60 per cent in a year. Soay Sheep explores the causes of these fluctuations and their consequences for selection on genetic and phenotypic variation within the population, drawing on nearly twenty years' study of the life-histories and reproductive careers of many individuals. The study provides important insights into the regulation of other herbivore populations and the effects of environmental change on selection and adaptation. It will be essential reading for vertebrate ecologists, demographers, evolutionary biologists and behavioural ecologists.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Soay Sheep was produced by a team of researchers who have accumulated a wealth of excellent, long-term data. It provides a superb demonstration of the importance of accumulating such data on populations, on the performances of their constituent members, and on the environments in which the animals are living. I wholeheartedly recommend the book to a wide range of readers...Soay Sheep will surely become a key reference on the causes and consequences of population fluctuations in large herbivores." Science

"This book teaches an important lesson that a broad view with a single species may yield as much, if not more, information than a narrow view with many species. On this basis alone, this book is highly worth reading." Ecology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521529907
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/31/2004
  • Pages: 396
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Tim Clutton-Brock is Professor of Animal Ecology at the University of Cambridge.

Josephine Pemberton is Reader in Molecular Ecology at the University of Edinburgh.

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Table of Contents

List of Contributors
1 Individuals and populations 1
2 The sheep of St Kilda 17
3 Population dynamics in Soay sheep
4 Vegetation and sheep population dynamics 89
5 Parasites and their impact 113
6 Mating patterns and male breeding success 166
7 Selection on phenotype 190
8 Molecular genetic variation and selection on genotype 217
9 Adaptive reproductive strategies 243
10 The causes and consequences of instability 276
App. 1 The flora of St Kilda 311
App. 2 Inheritance of coat colour and horn type in Hirta Soay sheep 321
App. 3 How average life tables can mislead 328
References 332
Index 380
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