Natal dispersal is assumed to be costly. Such costs can be difficult to detect, and fitness consequences of dispersal are therefore poorly known. Because of lower phenotypic quality and/or familiarity with the environment, natal dispersers may be less buffered against a sudden increase in reproductive effort. Consequently, reproductive costs associated with natal dispersal may mostly be detected in harsh breeding conditions. We tested this prediction by comparing lifetime reproductive success between natal dispersers and non-dispersers in a patchy population of collared flycatchers (Ficedula albicollis) when they reared either a non-manipulated brood or an experimentally increased or decreased brood. Natal dispersers achieved lower lifetime reproductive success than non-dispersers only under more stressful breeding conditions (i.e. when brood size was experimentally increased). This was mostly due to a lower number of recruits produced in the year of the increase. Our results suggest a cost associated with natal dispersal paid immediately after an increase in reproductive effort and not subsequently compensated for through increased survival or future offspring recruitment. Natal dispersers adjusted their breeding investment when reproductive effort is as predicted but seemed unable to efficiently face a sudden increase in effort, which could affect the influence of environmental predictability on dispersal evolution.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3703561.
- Received November 9, 2016.
- Accepted February 15, 2017.
- © 2017 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.