Sex-specific covariation between exploratory behavior and natal dispersal strategies in a natural cooperative breeding passerine population

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Tara Cox, Alexandra M Sparks, Terry Burke, Jan Komdeur, David S Richardson, Hannah L Dugdale 


Natal dispersal is a major life-history strategy that has pervasive consequences on the spatial and genetic structure of populations. Between-individual variation in personality traits is increasingly recognized as an important determinant of natal dispersal via ‘personality-dependent dispersal’. However, few studies have investigated the importance of personalities in the context of delayed natal dispersal, in part due to the difficulty of monitoring the movements of individuals in open populations and over long periods of time. Here, we assessed personality-dependent natal dispersal strategies in an island population of cooperatively-breeding Seychelles warblers Acrocephalus sechellensis, where individuals have the option to delay dispersal in favor of remaining at their natal site. Specifically, we tested the effect of novel environment and novel object exploration on whether an individual delayed natal dispersal following sexual maturity, as well as the age of dispersal and the distance dispersed. We found males, but not females, with higher novel environment exploration scores were more likely to delay natal dispersal. In contrast, females that were more exploratory in a novel environment dispersed further, but this was not the case for males. The sex-specific nature of the relationship between exploration and natal dispersal in this system highlights the importance of considering sexual dimorphism in life-history strategies when investigating personality-dependent dispersal. Future studies should continue to assess the implications of animal personality on delayed natal dispersal, particularly in cooperatively breeding systems where the timing of dispersal has important implications on reproduction and fitness.



Life Sciences


Cooperative breeding, delayed natal dispersal, Exploration, personality-dependent dispersal, Birds


Published: 2023-01-20 15:38

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