Genetic consequences of natal dispersal in the colonial lesser kestrel

Authors

  • JOAQUÍN ORTEGO,

    1. Grupo de Investigación de la Biodiversidad Genética y Cultural, Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos — IREC (CSIC, UCLM, JCCM), Ronda de Toledo s/n, E-13005 Ciudad Real, Spain
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  • GUSTAU CALABUIG,

    1. Grupo de Investigación de la Biodiversidad Genética y Cultural, Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos — IREC (CSIC, UCLM, JCCM), Ronda de Toledo s/n, E-13005 Ciudad Real, Spain
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  • JOSÉ MIGUEL APARICIO,

    1. Grupo de Investigación de la Biodiversidad Genética y Cultural, Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos — IREC (CSIC, UCLM, JCCM), Ronda de Toledo s/n, E-13005 Ciudad Real, Spain
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  • PEDRO J. CORDERO

    1. Grupo de Investigación de la Biodiversidad Genética y Cultural, Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos — IREC (CSIC, UCLM, JCCM), Ronda de Toledo s/n, E-13005 Ciudad Real, Spain
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Joaquín Ortego, Fax: +34 926 295 451; E-mail: joaquin.ortego@uclm.es

Abstract

Dispersal is a life-history trait that plays a fundamental role in population dynamics, influencing evolution, species distribution, and the genetics and structure of populations. In spite of the fact that dispersal has been hypothesized to be an efficient behavioural mechanism to avoid inbreeding, the expected relationship between dispersal and mate relatedness still remains controversial. Here, we examine the genetic consequences of natal dispersal, namely the higher chance of obtaining genetically less similar mates as a result of moving from natal to breeding sites, in a lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni) population. Relatedness between individuals tended to decrease with distance between their breeding colonies, indicating that the study population follows an ‘isolation-by-distance’ pattern of spatial genetic structure. Such a fine-scale genetic structure generates a scenario in which individuals can potentially increase the chance of obtaining genetically less similar mates by dispersing over larger distances from their natal colony. Using dispersal information and genotypic data, we showed that mate relatedness decreased with natal dispersal distance, an effect that remained significant both while including and excluding philopatric individuals from the data set. These results, together with the well known detrimental consequences of reduced genetic diversity in the study population, suggest that dispersal may have evolved, at least in part, to avoid the negative fitness consequences of mating with genetically similar individuals.

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