Past reproductive success affects future habitat selection
- Cite this article as:
- Switzer, P. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (1997) 40: 307. doi:10.1007/s002650050346
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Correlational studies have shown that an individual's past reproductive success often increases its breeding site fidelity (i.e., the tendency to return to a previously occupied location), suggesting that individuals use their reproductive experience to assess habitat quality. However, the causality of the relationship between reproductive success and site fidelity is still uncertain. In a field experiment, the effect of mating success on site fidelity was isolated from potential confounding variables in a territorial dragonfly, the eastern amberwing (Perithemis tenera). The experiment controlled for site quality, intrinsic characteristics of males, previous territorial experience at the site, arrival order, and territorial evictions. Males that were prevented from mating were much more likely to change sites the following day than control males that were allowed to mate. This result was not affected by age, the amount of time a male spent on the site, or mortality. These results imply that individuals use their own reproductive success to assess the quality of the habitat. The benefit to an individual of using its reproductive success to determine habitat quality is discussed relative to other sources of information.