Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 307–312

Past reproductive success affects future habitat selection

  • Paul V. Switzer

DOI: 10.1007/s002650050346

Cite this article as:
Switzer, P. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (1997) 40: 307. doi:10.1007/s002650050346


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.

Key words Site fidelity  Habitat selection Territory Mating success  Dragonfly

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul V. Switzer
    • 1
  1. 1.Animal Behavior Group, Section of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USAUS
  2. 2.Department of Zoology, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL 61920, USA Tel.: (217) 581-6951; Fax: (217) 581-2722; e-mail: cfpvs@eiu.eduUS