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PLoS One. 2013 Nov 22;8(11):e81118. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081118. eCollection 2013.

Evidence for an association between post-fledging dispersal and microsatellite multilocus heterozygosity in a large population of greater flamingos.

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Université de Bourgogne, Equipe Ecologie Evolutive, UMR CNRS 6282 Biogéosciences, Dijon, France ; Centre de Recherche de la Tour du Valat, Le Sambuc, Arles, France ; Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, dpt. of Evolutionary Genetics, Berlin, Germany.


Dispersal can be divided into three stages: departure, transience and settlement. Despite the fact that theoretical studies have emphasized the importance of heterozygosity on dispersal strategies, empirical evidence of its effect on different stages of dispersal is lacking. Here, using multi-event capture-mark-recapture models, we show a negative association between microsatellite multilocus heterozygosity (MLH; 10 loci; n = 1023) and post-fledging dispersal propensity for greater flamingos, Phoenicopterus roseus, born in southern France. We propose that the negative effects of inbreeding depression affects competitive ability and therefore more homozygous individuals are more likely to disperse because they are less able to compete within the highly saturated natal site. Finally, a model with the effect of MLH on propensity of post-fledgling dispersers to disperse to the long-distance sites of Africa was equivalent to the null model, suggesting that MLH had low to no effect on dispersal distance. Variations in individual genetic quality thus result in context-dependent heterogeneity in dispersal strategies at each stage of dispersal. Our results have important implications on fitness since sites visited early in life are known to influence site selection later on in life and future survival.

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