Luna, Á., Palma, A., Sanz-Aguilar, A., Tella, J.L., Carrete, M. 2020. Sex, personality and conspecific density influence natal dispersal with lifetime fitness consequences in urban and rural burrowing owls. PLoS ONE 15(2): e0226089
Abstract: There is a growing need to
understand how species respond to habitat changes and the potential key role
played by natal dispersal in population dynamics, structure and gene flow.
However, few studies have explored differences in this process between
conspecifics living in natural habitats and those inhabiting landscapes highly
transformed by humans, such as cities. Here, we investigate how individual
traits and social characteristics can influence the natal dispersal decisions
of burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) living in urban and rural areas,
as well as the consequences in terms of reproductive success and apparent
survival. We found short dispersal movements among individuals, with
differences between urban and rural birds (i.e., the former covering shorter
distances than the latter), maybe because of the higher conspecific density of
urban compared to rural areas. Moreover, we found that urban and rural females
as well as bold individuals (i.e., individuals with shorter flight initiation
distance) exhibited longer dispersal distances than their counterparts. These
dispersal decisions have effects on individual fitness. Individuals traveling
longer distances increased their reproductive prospects (productivity during
the first breeding attempt, and long term productivity). However, the apparent
survival of females decreased when they dispersed farther from their natal
territory. Although further research is needed to properly understand the
ecological and evolutionary consequences of dispersal patterns in transformed
habitats, our results provide information about the drivers and the
consequences of the restricted natal movements of this species, which may
explain its population structuring through restricted gene flow between and
within urban and rural areas.
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