Natal dispersal patterns are not associated with inbreeding avoidance in the Seychelles warbler


Cas Eikenaar, Animal Ecology Group, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies, University of Groningen, PO Box 14, 9750 AA Haren, The Netherlands.
Tel.: +31 50 3635928; fax: +31 50 3632148; e-mail:


In this study, we test whether patterns of territory inheritance, social mate choice and female-biased natal dispersal act as inbreeding avoidance mechanisms in the cooperatively breeding Seychelles warbler. Our results show that Seychelles warblers do not reduce the likelihood of inbreeding by avoiding related individuals as mates. The occurrence of natural and experimentally induced territory inheritance did not depend on whether the remaining breeder was a parent of the potential inheritor or an unrelated breeder. Furthermore, dispersing individuals were no less related to their eventual mates than expected given the pool of candidates they could mate with. The female bias in natal dispersal distance observed in the Seychelles warbler does not facilitate inbreeding avoidance because, contrary to our prediction, there was no sex difference in the clustering of related opposite sex breeders around the natal territories of dispersers. As a result, the chance of females mating with relatives was not reduced by their greater dispersal distance compared with that of males.