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Mechanisms of colony selection by first-year Lesser Kestrels Falco naumanni

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In colonial species, first-time breeders may use the number of settled conspecifics in colony selection, but such a relationship is confused by the correlation between colony size and nest-site availability. To distinguish conspecific attraction from neutral colony selection, we experimentally increased nest availability for first-year Lesser Kestrels Falco naumanni, allowing us to dissociate the number of vacant nest-sites from colony size at the arrival time of first-year birds. Under natural conditions, the number of first-year birds settling was positively correlated with both the number of philopatric and the total number of breeding pairs (colony size) already settled. However, the probability of occupation of experimentally manipulated nests by first-year birds was independent of colony size. In experimental colonies, the number of first-year birds settling was positively correlated with the number of manipulated nest-sites but not with the number of conspecifics. Overall, these results support a neutral colony selection by first-year Lesser Kestrels based on nest-site availability.

Keywords: conspecific attraction; conspecific cues; first-year birds; nest-site availability; nest-site selection; neutral selection; public information; social information

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Departamento de Ecología Evolutiva, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC), C/José Gutiérrez Abascal 2, E-28006 Madrid, Spain 2: Grupo de Investigación de la Biodiversidad Genética y Cultural, Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos – IREC (CSIC, UCLM, JCCM), Ronda de Toledo s/n, E-13005 Ciudad Real, Spain

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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