Intraspecific variation in migratory pattern of a partial migrant, the Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus): An evaluation of different hypotheses

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Abstract

To evaluate hypotheses explaining intraspecific variation in migratory behavior in partial migrants, a local population of Blue Tits (Parus caeruleus) was studied in southern Sweden. Birds born in the study area and recaptured there in winter were compared with birds recaptured at a nearby bird station where a large number of migrant Blue Tits were passing. By comparing sex ratios among migrants and residents, we concluded that, among juveniles, more than 40% of the females and a significant proportion of the males migrated, while considerably fewer adult females and virtually no adult males did so. Migrant and resident Blue Tits did not differ in size as nestlings, but more late- than early-hatched males migrated. No differences in hatching date were determined for females, presumably because most of them migrated. Our findings are consistent with the "dominance hypothesis" as an explanation of partial migration, i.e. that the individuals lowest in rank migrate. The fitness gain that leads dominants to stay as residents may be lower winter mortality or a higher probability of establishing a territory in spring. In either case, keener competition for breeding territories among males than among females as a cause tor higher residency cannot be excluded.

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Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Zoology
  • Ecology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-115
Number of pages7
JournalThe Auk
Volume104
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1987
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes