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Post-juvenile dispersal of Hazel Grouse Bonasa bonasia in an expanding population of the southeastern French Alps


*Corresponding author.


We studied the post-juvenile dispersal of 18 radiotagged juvenile Hazel Grouse Bonasa bonasia (14 males, four females) in an expanding population in the southeastern French Alps between 1998 and 2001. The mean dispersal distances between the capture sites of juveniles in September–October and the centre of the home range in the following spring was 4 km for males (range 0.1–24.9 km) and 2 km for females (range 0.2–5.6 km). The distances recorded for two long-dispersing males (15 and 24.9 km) are greater than those reported to date for Hazel Grouse. Using our radiotracking data, we interpret the pattern of range expansion that has been occurring since the 1950s around our study area. Barriers to dispersal included rocky ground and other alpine habitats above 2000 m and over 1 km wide, but Hazel Grouse did cross open agricultural land at lower elevation. Two patterns of dispersal movements were recognized in juveniles: erratic movements that led to settlement on or near the natal site, and direct movements to a new range relatively far from the natal area. We discuss the adaptive consequences of these different behaviour patterns.