Natal dispersal, the movement from natal to breeding territory, is a crucial life-history event but despite its importance, it is underlooked owing to difficulties in monitoring movements of wild animals. Using long-term data and newly developed tracking devices, Dr. Young Ha Suh studied variation in natal dispersal in a color-banded population of Florida Scrub-Jays, a cooperatively breeding species in which the offspring delay dispersal and remain as helpers on the natal territory. Both social and environmental factors affect dispersal timing and distance, especially when there is strong competition for breeding opportunities. Florida Scrub-Jays also prospect for future breeding opportunities through an information-gathering movement which has costs but can increase their chances of dispersal. High-accuracy tracking tags revealed how frequent and far helpers prospect and provide a new opportunity to study this elusive behavior. Overall, various social and environmental elements seem to affect the costs and benefits of dispersal and explain why we see variation in dispersal patterns for this species.
Join us for a presentation to further our understanding of an essential and poorly understood behavior.
Here is a video of the talk: