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Directional selection and repeatability in nest-site preferences of Semipalmated Plovers (Charadrius semipalmatus)

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Using marked individuals, we assessed directional selection and repeatability of nest-site characteristics of Semipalmated Plovers (Charadrius semipalmatus Bonaparte, 1825) on Akimiski Island, Nunavut, Canada, 2002–2005, to test the hypothesis that long- and short-term selection patterns were in the same direction. Plovers placed nests in microsites (1 m2 scale) with more pebbles and less bare mud and vegetation than what was available in the environment, indicating long-term selection for these features. Linear (directional selection) effects were stronger than quadratic (stabilizing or disruptive) effects in 3 of 4 years and in the analysis of all data. In the combined 4-year sample, significant directional selection occurred in the opposite direction than that present when comparing used and available sites. Birds with more bare mud and vegetation and fewer pebbles at their nest sites were more successful than birds with pebbled nest sites. Repeatability of nest-site preferences was low and nonsignificant. Neither successful nor unsuccessful pairs chose significantly different nest-site characteristics in subsequent nesting attempts, but options for moving to different nest sites may be limited by interannual site fidelity. Wide individual variability and low repeatability of nest-site characteristics suggests behavioral flexibility in the population. Applying quantitative genetic techniques to patterns of habitat selection may allow researchers to predict the degree to which animals can adjust to changing environments.

Keywords: Charadrius semipalmatus; Semipalmated Plover; adaptation; natural selection; nest success; nest-site selection; pluvier semipalmé; repeatability; répétabilité; succès de nidification; sélection du site de nidification; sélection naturelle

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Environmental and Life Sciences Graduate Program, Trent University, 1600 West Bank Drive, Peterborough, ON K9J 7B8, Canada.

Publication date: 2013-01-01

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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