, Volume 71, Issue 4, pp 518-524

Natal philopatry and recruitment of willow ptarmigan in north central and northwestern Canada

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Natal philopatry and recruitment were measured in two populations of willow ptarmigan; one near Churchill, Manitoba and the other in northwestern British Columbia. We examined the return of tagged offspring in subsequent years with respect to geographical area, annual variation, their age when tagged, their sex, their body weight, age and number of their parents, and time of hatch (first nest or renest). Most chicks were tagged before they fledged, but chicks tagged after that had the highest rate of return. We also observed a strong positive relationship between fledging success of broods and offspring return in following years.

Patterns of offspring return were similar in both populations except that male offspring in Manitoba settled closer to their natal sites than those in British Columbia and more yearling captured in Manitoba had been tagged as chicks. Return of offspring did not vary with year, their body weights shortly after hatch, or with the age or number of parents raising them. However, a significantly higher proportion of offspring hatched from first nests (first-initiated clutches) returned compared to those hatched from renests (replacement clutches). The low return of chicks hatched from renests may due to low survival, low philopatry, or both. We observed no differences in the mating status (recruitment) of returning offspring with respect to the time they hatched or the number of parents that raised them.