Eco-evolutionary consequences of dispersal syndromes during colonization in a passerine bird

Marion Nicolaus*, Richard Ubels, Christiaan Both

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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In most animal species, dispersing individuals possess phenotypic attributes that mitigate the costs of colonization and/or increase settlement success in new areas (‘dispersal syndromes’). This phenotypic integration likely affects population dynamics and the direction of selection, but data are lacking for natural populations. Using an approach that combines population dynamics, quantitative genetics and phenotypic selection analyses, we reveal the existence of dispersal syndromes in a pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) population in The Netherlands: immigrants were larger, tended to have darker plumage, bred earlier and produced larger clutches than local recruits, and some of these traits were genetically correlated. Over time, the phenotypic profile of the population gradually changed: each generation advanced arrival and breeding and exhibited longer wings as the result of direct and indirect selection on these correlated traits. Although phenotypic attributes of immigrants were favored by selection during the early phase of colonization, observed phenotypic changes were similar for immigrants and local recruits. We propose that immigrants facilitated initial population establishment but that temporal changes likely resulted from climate change-induced large scale selection. This study highlights that newly established populations are of non-random composition and that phenotypic architecture affects evolutionary population trajectories.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalThe American Naturalist
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr-2023


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