Title page for ETD etd-81197-102711

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Daniels, Susan J. III
Author's Email Address sdaniels@vt.edu
URN etd-81197-102711
Title Female Dispersal and Inbreeding in the Red-cockaded Woodpecker
Degree Master of Science
Department Biology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Walters, Jeffrey R. Committee Chair
Andrews, Robin M. Committee Member
Notter, David R. Committee Member
  • cooperative breeding
  • optimal inbreeding
  • inbreeding avoidance
  • inbreeding depression
  • breeding dispersal
  • natal dispersal
  • Picoides borealis
Date of Defense 1997-08-25
Availability unrestricted
Dispersal is a critical life-history component; it determines gene flow and has

profound effects on population structure, demography, social systems, and population

viability. To add to our knowledge of dispersal and, in particular, our understanding of

the relationship between dispersal and inbreeding, I studied three aspects of the biology of

the red-cockaded woodpecker: dispersal of breeding females; the costs, benefits, and

frequency of inbreeding; and the effect of inbreeding on natal dispersal.

Dispersal of breeding female red-cockaded woodpeckers is strongly associated

with inbreeding avoidance and mate choice, weakly associated with site choice, and not

found to be associated with social constraints. Estimates of mortality for non-dispersing

and dispersing breeding females were 24 and 59 percent per year, respectively-rare

evidence of the cost of breeding dispersal.

Significant costs of close inbreeding were found. Closely related pairs (kinship

coefficient greater than 0.1) had lower hatching success as well as lower survival and

recruitment of fledglings than unrelated pairs. Moderately related pairs (kinship

coefficient between 0 and 0.1) and moderately inbred individuals had increased hatching

success, but did not produce more young.

Despite documented costs of close inbreeding and a predictable spatial distribution

of closely related males near the natal territory, female fledglings disperse a median of only

two territories and a modal distance of one territory. Natal dispersal of females is affected

by closely related males on the natal site but unaffected by closely related males or

moderately related males that are off the natal site.

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