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Age at first (alpha) and last (omega) breeding are important life-history traits; however, the direction and strength of selection detected on traits may vary depending on the fitness measure used. We provide the first estimates of lifetime breeding success (LBS) and lambda(ind) (the population growth rate of an individual) of European badgers Meles meles, by genotyping 915 individuals, sampled over 18 years, for 22 microsatellites. Males are slightly larger than females, and the opportunity for selection was slightly greater for males, as predicted. lambda(ind) and LBS both performed well in predicting the number of grand-offspring, and both detected selection for a late omega, until the age of eight. Differential selection (S'(alpha)) for an early alpha, however, was only detected using LBS, not with lambda(ind). In declining populations (lambda(ind) < 1) selection favours reproduction later in life, whereas early reproduction is selected in increasing populations (lambda(ind) > 1). As 41% of badgers were assigned only one offspring (lambda(ind) < 1), whereas 40% were assigned more than two (lambda(ind) > 1), this cancelled out S'(alpha) measured by lambda(ind).

Original publication




Journal article


J Evol Biol

Publication Date





282 - 292


Age Factors, Animals, Breeding, Female, Genetic Fitness, Male, Microsatellite Repeats, Mustelidae, Population Growth, Reproduction, Selection, Genetic