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Proc Biol Sci. 2009 May 7;276(1662):1619-26. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2008.1452. Epub 2009 Jan 20.

Non-breeding season events influence sexual selection in a long-distance migratory bird.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6. mattreudink@gmail.com

Abstract

The study of sexual selection has traditionally focused on events and behaviours immediately surrounding copulation. In this study, we examine whether carry-over effects from the non-breeding season can influence the process of sexual selection in a long-distance migratory bird, the American redstart (Setophaga ruticilla). Previous work on American redstarts demonstrated that overwintering in a high-quality habitat influences spring departure dates from the wintering grounds, advances arrival dates on the breeding grounds and increases apparent reproductive success. We show that the mixed-mating strategy of American redstarts compounds the benefits of overwintering in high-quality winter habitats. Males arriving to breed in Canada from high-quality winter habitats arrive earlier than males from poor-quality habitats, resulting in a lower probability of paternity loss, a higher probability of achieving polygyny and ultimately higher realized reproductive success. Such results suggest that the process of sexual selection may be influenced by events interacting throughout the annual cycle.

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