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Birthplace-dependent dispersal: are directions of natal dispersal determined a priori?


  • Vincenzo Penteriani,

  • M. M. Delgado

V. Penteriani ( and M. M. Delgado, Dept of Conservation Biology, Estación Biológica de Doñana, C.S.I.C., c/ Americo Vespucio s/n, ES-41092 Seville, Spain. Present address of VP: Finnish Museum of Natural History, Univ. of Helsinki, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland, present address of MMD: Metapopulation Research Group, Dept of Biosciences, Univ. of Helsinki, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland.


Sib–sib or, more generally, family resemblance for dispersal seems a widespread characteristic of vertebrates, and the birthplace has the potential to shape the dynamics and features of animal populations. Dispersal studies have often stressed the fundamental link between the fate of dispersers and population dynamics, but few have focused on the dispersal directions of individuals, despite the profound implications that this may have on population distribution, structure, dynamics and viability. We investigated the directions followed by 72 radio-tagged dispersers (43 males and 29 females from 14 nest sites) in an eagle owl Bubo bubo population, and assessed their a) inter-individual distances during dispersal and b) age at dispersal departure. For siblings, as well as potential-siblings (i.e. individuals born in the same nest in different years), the birthplace influenced inter-individual distances and dispersal directions, i.e. dispersers from the same nest moved to similar locations during the study; moreover, in each year, individuals from the same birthplace moved across the same areas in a short time period. Finally, siblings and potential-siblings born in the same nest in different years started dispersal at similar ages. Based on the movement patterns of dispersers we discuss: a) the potential implications of the birthplace-dependent dispersal on the ideal free distribution theory, as well as in terms of kin competition, inbreeding avoidance and population dynamics; and, more generally, b) the effect of the temporal features of the natal dispersal on the concept of habitat suitability vs density of individuals developed by the ideal free distribution theory.