The effect of phenotypic traits and external cues on natal dispersal movements
Article first published online: 22 JAN 2010
© 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 British Ecological Society
Journal of Animal Ecology
Volume 79, Issue 3, pages 620–632, May 2010
How to Cite
Delgado, M. d. M., Penteriani, V., Revilla, E. and Nams, V. O. (2010), The effect of phenotypic traits and external cues on natal dispersal movements. Journal of Animal Ecology, 79: 620–632. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2009.01655.x
- Issue published online: 22 MAR 2010
- Article first published online: 22 JAN 2010
- Received 14 June 2009; accepted 14 December 2009 Handling Editor: Jean Clobert
- animal movements;
- dispersal behaviour;
- dispersal condition dependent;
- eagle owl;
- spatial networks
1. Natal dispersal has the potential to affect most ecological and evolutionary processes. However, despite its importance, this complex ecological process still represents a significant gap in our understanding of animal ecology due to both the lack of empirical data and the intrinsic complexity of dispersal dynamics.
2. By studying natal dispersal of 74 radiotagged juvenile eagle owls Bubo bubo (Linnaeus), in both the wandering and the settlement phases, we empirically addressed the complex interactions by which individual phenotypic traits and external cues jointly shape individual heterogeneity through the different phases of dispersal, both at nightly and weekly temporal scales.
3. Owls in poorer physical conditions travelled shorter total distances during the wandering phase, describing straighter paths and moving slower, especially when crossing heterogeneous habitats. In general, the owls in worse condition started dispersal later and took longer times to find further settlement areas. Net distances were also sex biased, with females settling at further distances. Dispersing individuals did not seem to explore wandering and settlement areas by using a search image of their natal surroundings. Eagle owls showed a heterogeneous pattern of patch occupancy, where few patches were highly visited by different owls whereas the majority were visited by just one individual. During dispersal, the routes followed by owls were an intermediate solution between optimized and randomized ones. Finally, dispersal direction had a marked directionality, largely influenced by dominant winds. These results suggest an asymmetric and anisotropic dispersal pattern, where not only the number of patches but also their functions can affect population viability.
4. The combination of the information coming from the relationships among a large set of factors acting and integrating at different spatial and temporal scales, under the perspective of heterogeneous life histories, are a fruitful ground for future understanding of natal dispersal.