, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 197-201

Survival and lifetime reproductive success in dispersing and resident red squirrels

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Dispersal in red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) is not sex-biased and strict philopatry is rare. The immigration pattern suggests that nearly all animals have to disperse away from the natal site and that dispersal in this species is the outcome of local (intrasexual) competition. If this interpretation is correct, we predict that dispersers and residents, of both sexes, should have equal survival rates and lifetime reproductive success. Body mass, longevity, reproductive success and dominance rank of 34 resident offspring (settling within 400 m of the natal range) and 70 immigrants (dispersers) were compared. Immigrants did not weigh less than residents as adults, nor did they have a higher mortality during the pre-setding period. Survival rate, lifetime reproductive success (females) and the proportion of males obtaining a high dominance rank were similar for residents and dispersers, and no sex effect was found on either of the parameters studied. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that local competition determines whether an individual disperses further away or settles close to its birthplace.