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Non-random dispersal and implications for fitness in Pied Flycatchers, Ficedula hypoleuca

Seex, L (2017) Non-random dispersal and implications for fitness in Pied Flycatchers, Ficedula hypoleuca. Research Project 1 (minor thesis), Ecology and Evolution.

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Habitat matching occurs when an individual relocates in order to match the habitat with its phenotype. This can provide quick and efficient local adaptation which is particularly advantageous for species that can easily move across spatial gradients and to adapt to spatial and temporal fluctuation in both the physical and social habitat. Pied flycatchers migrate from West Africa to Europe to breed every year, the Dutch nest box population of flycatchers is spread across highly heterogeneous habitats that differ in their structure, tree species and bird densities. Through non-random dispersal, this population should be able to match their phenotype with one of the varied habitats available. In this study we investigate whether individual aggressive phenotype, habitat type and fitness are linked to test for the presence of habitat matching. Aggression tests were carried out on pairs of flycatchers during nest building and egg laying. The habitat around each nest box was measured and then transformed into principal components. Individual fitness was estimated via clutch size, average weight of chicks at day 12 and probability to have young fledge. General linear mixed models (GLMM) models were used to test correlations between aggression, fitness and physical and social environmental variables. Our results show that non-random dispersal occurs in this population, although often to areas where they are apparently maladapted. Where phenotypes and habitat correlated, often fitness would be lower for those individuals than individuals with an alternate phenotype. Furthermore, this pattern was mainly seen in females and not males. This suggests that there is a more complex interaction occurring with habitat preference and choice in this population. At the moment, this study cannot determine why this is happening although we suggest some possible causes including ecological traps, frequency dependent selection and high search cost for mates in females. Furthermore, if maladaptation continues it can cause this population to suffer especially when combined with climate change.

Item Type: Thesis (Research Project 1 (minor thesis))
Degree programme: Ecology and Evolution
Thesis type: Research Project 1 (minor thesis)
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 08:27
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 08:27

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