The cost of prospecting for dispersal opportunities in a social bird

Kingma, Sjouke A., Komdeur, Jan, Hammers, Martijn and Richardson, David S. ORCID: (2016) The cost of prospecting for dispersal opportunities in a social bird. Biology Letters, 12 (6). ISSN 1744-9561

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Understanding why individuals delay dispersal and become subordinates within a group is central to studying the evolution of sociality. Hypotheses predict that dispersal decisions are influenced by costs of extra-territorial prospecting that are often required to find a breeding vacancy. Little is known about such costs, partly because it is complicated to demonstrate them empirically. For example, prospecting individuals may be of inferior quality already before prospecting and/or have been evicted. Moreover, costs of prospecting are mainly studied in species where prospectors suffer from predation risk, so how costly prospecting is when predators are absent remains unclear. Here, we determine a cost of prospecting for subordinate Seychelles warblers, Acrocephalus sechellensis, in a population where predators are absent and individuals return to their resident territory after prospecting. Prospecting individuals had 5.2% lower body mass than non-prospecting individuals. Our evidence suggests this may be owing to frequent attacks by resident conspecifics, likely leading to reduced food intake by prospectors. These results support the hypothesis that energetic costs associated with dispersal opportunities are one factor influencing dispersal decisions and shaping the evolution of delayed dispersal in social animals.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright 2016 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Uncontrolled Keywords: cooperative breeding,benefits of philopatry,delayed dispersal
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Biological Sciences
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Science > Research Centres > Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation
Faculty of Science > Research Groups > Organisms and the Environment
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Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 01 Jul 2016 15:00
Last Modified: 12 May 2023 00:13
DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2016.0316


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