The potential function of post-fledging dispersal behavior in first breeding territory selection for males of a migratory bird

Robert Patchett*, Patrick Styles, Joanna Robins King, Alexander N G Kirschel, Will Cresswell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

One possible hypothesis for the function of post-fledging dispersal is to locate a suitable future breeding area. This post-fledging period may be particularly important in migratory species because they have a limited period to gather information prior to autumn migration, and in protandrous species, males must quickly acquire a territory after returning from spring migration to maximize their fitness. Here we use color-ring resightings to investigate how the post-fledging dispersal movements of the Cyprus wheatear Oenanthe cypriaca, a small migratory passerine, relate to their first breeding territory the following year when they return from migration. We found that males established first breeding territories that were significantly closer to their post-fledging location than to their natal sites or to post-fledging locations of other conspecifics, but these patterns were not apparent in females. Our findings suggest that familiarity with potential breeding sites may be important for juveniles of migratory species, particularly for the sex that acquires and advertises breeding territories. Exploratory dispersal prior to a migrant’s first autumn migration may contribute toward its breeding success the following year, further highlighting the importance of early seasonal breeding on fitness and population dynamics more generally.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberzoac002
Pages (from-to)708–715
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Zoology
Volume68
Issue number6
Early online date29 Jan 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • Dispersal
  • Migratory bird
  • Juvenile
  • Territory selection

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