Journal of Ornithology

, 151:33 | Cite as

Off-territory movement of male American Redstarts (Setophaga ruticilla) in a fragmented agricultural landscape is related to song rate, mating status and access to females

Original Article


Male songbirds often move off-territory to pursue extra-pair fertilizations. This movement represents a trade-off between paternity gain and loss and can be influenced by male quality and access to fertile females. Access to females could be reduced in fragmented landscapes that have small patches and low connectedness. We studied movement and extra-pair fertilization success of radio-tracked male American Redstarts (Setophaga ruticilla) in forest patches in an agricultural landscape in Alberta, Canada, over 2 years. Males spent an average of 18% of their time off-territory, mostly intruding onto adjacent territories and rarely moving between patches. They averaged 0.8 trips/h, with mean trip duration of 17 min and mean trip distance of 104 m. Less time was spent off-territory when their mate was nest-building and males intruded most often onto territories with nest-building females. Males with higher song rates and more nearby females intruded most onto other territories. Monogamous males in better condition with higher song rates spent the most time off-territory. However, males with more nearby females and higher local breeding synchrony spent the least time off-territory, suggesting these males face a trade-off between seeking extra-pair fertilizations and protecting against cuckoldry. Forest cover was not an important predictor of movement. Investment in off-territory movement did not predict extra-pair fertilization success or probability of cuckoldry. However, few tracked males achieved extra-pair fertilizations (1/22 tracked males vs 18/57 non-tracked males), possibly an artefact of low sample size or the effect of radio transmitters on female choice.


American Redstart Fragmentation Movement Song rate Extra-pair paternity 

Supplementary material

10336_2009_419_MOESM1_ESM.doc (64 kb)
Supplementary material (DOC 64 kb)


  1. Alderson GW, Gibbs HL, Sealy SG (1999) Parentage and kinship studies in an obligate brood parasitic bird, the brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater), using microsatellite DNA markers. Anim Behav 58:895–905CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Applied Biosystems (2001a) GENOTYPER. Applied Biosystems, Foster CityGoogle Scholar
  3. Applied Biosystems (2001b) GENESCAN. Applied Biosystems, Foster CityGoogle Scholar
  4. Beyer HL (2004) Hawth’s analysis tools for ArcGIS, version 3.26.
  5. Birkhead TR, Møller AP (1992) Sperm competition in birds: evolutionary causes and consequences. Academic, LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. Burley NT, Enstrom DA, Chitwood L (1994) Extra-pair relations in zebra finches: differential male success results from female tactics. Anim Behav 48:1031–1041CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Burnham KP, Anderson DR (2002) Model selection and multi-model inference: a practical information-theoretic approach. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  8. Bush KL, Vinsky MD, Aldridge CL, Paszkowski CA (2005) A comparison of sample types varying in invasiveness for use in DNA sex determination in an endangered population of sage-grouse (Centrocercus uropihasianus). Conserv Genet 6:867–870CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chandler CR, Ketterson ED, Nolan V Jr, Ziegenfus C (1994) Effects of testosterone on spatial activity in free-ranging male dark-eyed juncos, Junco hyemalis. Anim Behav 47:1445–1455CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Churchill JL (2006) Movement and fertilization success of American redstarts (Setophaga ruticilla) in a fragmented agricultural landscape. MSc thesis, University of Alberta, EdmontonGoogle Scholar
  11. Crawley MJ (2002) Statistical computing: an introduction to data-analysis using S-Plus. Wiley, West SussexGoogle Scholar
  12. Dawson RJG, Gibbs HL, Hobson KA, Yzerinac SM (1997) Isolation of microsatellite DNA markers from a passerine bird, Dendroica petechia (the yellow warbler), and their use in population studies. Heredity 79:506–514CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Desrochers A, Hannon SJ (1997) Gap crossing decisions by forest songbirds during the post-fledging period. Conserv Biol 11:1204–1210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Doligez B, Danchin E, Clobert J (2002) Public information and breeding habitat selection in a wild bird population. Science 297:1168–1170CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Dyrcz A, Wink M, Kruszewicz A, Leisler B (2005) Male reproductive success is correlated with blood parasite levels and body condition in the promiscuous aquatic warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola). Auk 122:558–565CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. ESRI (2004) ArcGIS. Version 9.0. ESRI, RedlandsGoogle Scholar
  17. Fahrig L (2003) Effects of habitat fragmentation on biodiversity. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 34:487–515CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ficken MS (1963) Courtship of the American redstart. Auk 80:307–317Google Scholar
  19. Foerster K, Poesel A, Kunc H, Kempenaers B (2002) The natural plasma testosterone profile of male blue tits during the breeding season and its relation to song output. J Avian Biol 33:269–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Francis CM, Wood SD (1989) Effects of age and wear on wing length of wood-warblers. J Field Ornithol 60:495–503Google Scholar
  21. Fraser GS, Stutchbury BJM (2004) Area-sensitive birds move extensively among forest patches. Biol Conserv 118:377–387CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gibbs HL, Tabak LM, Hobson K (1999) Characterization of microsatellite DNA loci for a neotropical migrant songbird, the swainson’s thrush (Catharus ustulatus). Mol Ecol 8:1551–1561CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gottlander K (1987) Variation in the song rate of the male pied flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca: causes and consequences. Anim Behav 35:1037–1043CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Grubb TJ, Doherty PF (1999) On home-range gap crossing. Auk 116:618–628Google Scholar
  25. Hanski IK (1992) Territorial behaviour and mixed reproductive strategy in the chaffinch. Ornis Scand 23:475–482CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Insightful Corporation (2005) S-Plus, version 7.0. Insightful Corporation, SeattleGoogle Scholar
  27. Kappes PJ (2004) The influence of different pigment-based ornamental plumage on the pairing and reproductive success of male American redstarts (Setophaga ruticilla). MSc thesis, York University, TorontoGoogle Scholar
  28. Kempenaers B (1993) The use of a breeding synchrony index. Ornis Scand 24:1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kempenaers B, Verheyen GR, Van Den Broeck M, Burke T, Van Broeckhoven C, Dhondt AA (1992) Extra-pair paternity results from female preference for high-quality males in the blue tit. Nature 357:494–496CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kleven O, Marthinsen G, Lifjeld JT (2005) Male extraterritorial forays, age and paternity in the socially monogamous reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus). J Ornithol 147:468–473CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lemon RE, Weary DM, Norris KJ (1992) Male morphology and behavior correlate with reproductive success in the American redstart (Setophaga ruticilla). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 29:399–403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Marshall TC, Slate J, Kruuk LEB, Pemberton JM (1998) Statistical confidence for likelihood-based paternity inference in natural populations. Mol Ecol 7:639–655CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Merilä J, Hemborg C (2000) Fitness and feather wear in the collared flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis). J Avian Biol 31:504–510CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Morton ES (1992) What do we know about the future of migrant landbirds? In: Hagan JMIII, Johnston DW (eds) Ecology and conservation of migrant landbirds. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, pp 579–589Google Scholar
  35. Naguib M, Altenkamp R, Griessmann B (2001) Nightingales in space: song and extra-territorial forays of radio tagged songbirds. J Ornithol 142:306–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Neudorf DL, Ziolkowski DJ Jr, Nolan V Jr, Ketterson ED (2002) Testosterone manipulation of male attractiveness has no detectable effect on female home-range size and behavior during the fertile period. Ethology 108:713–726CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Norris DR, Stutchbury BJM (2001) Extraterritorial movements of a forest songbird in a fragmented landscape. Conserv Biol 15:729–736CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Norris DR, Stutchbury BJM (2002) Sexual differences in gap-crossing ability of a forest songbird in a fragmented landscape revealed through radiotracking. Auk 119:528–532CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Nowicki S, Hasselquist D, Bencsh S, Peters S (2000) Nestling growth and song repertoire size in great reed warblers: evidence for song learning as an indicator mechanism in mate choice. Proc R Soc Lond B 267:2419–2424CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Perreault S, Lemon RE, Kuhnlein U (1997) Patterns and correlates of extra-pair paternity in American redstarts (Setophaga ruticilla). Behav Ecol 8:612–621CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Pyle P (1997) Identification guide to North American birds—Part 1. Slate Creek Press, BolinasGoogle Scholar
  42. Raim A (1978) A radio transmitter attachment for small passerines. Bird Banding 49:326–332Google Scholar
  43. Raymond M, Rousset F (1995) GENEPOP (version 1.2): population genetics software for exact tests and ecumenicism. J Hered 86:248–249Google Scholar
  44. Robb LA, Martin K, Hannon SJ (1992) Spring body condition, fecundity, and survival in female willow ptarmigan. J Anim Ecol 61:215–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rogers CM (2003) New and continuing issues with using visible fat classes to estimate fat stores of birds. J Avian Biol 34:129–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Saino N, Galeotti P, Sacchi R, Møller AP (1997) Song and immunological condition in male barn swallows (Hirundo rustica). Behav Ecol 8:364–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Secunda RC, Sherry TW (1991) Polyterritorial polygyny in the American redstart. Wilson Bull 103:190–203Google Scholar
  48. Seutin G, White BN, Boag PT (1991) Preservation of avian blood and tissue samples for DNA analyses. Can J Zool 69:82–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sherry TW, Holmes RT (1997) American redstart (Setophaga ruticilla). In: Poole A, Gill F (eds) Birds of North America, no. 277. The Birds of North America, Philadelphia, pp 1–32Google Scholar
  50. Stutchbury BJM (1998) Extra-pair mating effort of male hooded warblers, Wilsonia citrina. Anim Behav 55:553–561CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Stutchbury BJM, Piper WH, Neudorf DL, Tarof SA, Rhymer JM, Fuller G, Fleischer RC (1997) Correlates of extra-pair fertilization success in hooded warblers. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 40:119–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Stutchbury BJM, Pitcher TE, Norris DR, Tuttle EM, Gosner RA (2005) Does male extra-territory foray effort affect fertilization success in hooded warblers Wilsonia citrina? J Avian Biol 36:471–477CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sullivan MS (1994) Mate choice as an information gathering process under time constraint: implications for behaviour and signal design. Anim Behav 47:141–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Webster MS, Chuang-Dobbs HC, Holmes RT (2001) Microsatellite identification of extrapair sires in a socially monogamous warbler. Behav Ecol 12:439–446CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Webster MS, Tarvin KA, Tuttle EM, Pruett-Jones S (2004) Reproductive promiscuity in the splendid fairy-wren: effects of group size and auxiliary reproduction. Behav Ecol 15:907–915CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Westneat DF (1990) Genetic parentage in the indigo bunting: a study using DNA fingerprinting. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 27:67–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Woolfenden BE, Stutchbury BJM, Morton ES (2005) Male Acadian flycatchers, Empidonax virescens, obtain extrapair fertilizations with distant females. Anim Behav 69:921–929CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of AlbertaABCanada

Personalised recommendations