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Cost of dispersal in a social mammal: body mass loss and increased stress


Maag, Nino; Cozzi, Gabriele; Bateman, Andrew; Heistermann, Michael; Ganswindt, André; Manser, Marta; Clutton-Brock, Tim; Ozgul, Arpat (2019). Cost of dispersal in a social mammal: body mass loss and increased stress. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 286(1896):20190033.

Abstract

Dispersal is a key process influencing the dynamics of socially and spatially structured populations. Dispersal success is determined by the state of individuals at emigration and the costs incurred after emigration. However, quantification of such costs is often difficult, due to logistical constraints of following wide-ranging individuals. We investigated the effects of dispersal on individual body mass and stress hormone levels in a cooperative breeder, the meerkat (Suricata suricatta). We measured body mass and faecal glucocorticoid metabolite (fGCM) concentrations from 95 dispersing females in 65 coalitions through the entire dispersal process. Females that successfully settled lost body mass, while females that did not settle but returned to their natal group after a short period of time did not. Furthermore, dispersing females had higher fGCM levels than resident females, and this was especially pronounced during the later stages of dispersal. By adding information on the transient stage of dispersal and by comparing dispersers that successfully settled to dispersers that returned to their natal group, we expand on previous studies focusing on the earlier stages of dispersal. We propose that body mass and stress hormone levels are good indicators to investigate dispersal costs, as these traits often play an important role in mediating the effects of the environment on other life-history events and individual fitness.

Abstract

Dispersal is a key process influencing the dynamics of socially and spatially structured populations. Dispersal success is determined by the state of individuals at emigration and the costs incurred after emigration. However, quantification of such costs is often difficult, due to logistical constraints of following wide-ranging individuals. We investigated the effects of dispersal on individual body mass and stress hormone levels in a cooperative breeder, the meerkat (Suricata suricatta). We measured body mass and faecal glucocorticoid metabolite (fGCM) concentrations from 95 dispersing females in 65 coalitions through the entire dispersal process. Females that successfully settled lost body mass, while females that did not settle but returned to their natal group after a short period of time did not. Furthermore, dispersing females had higher fGCM levels than resident females, and this was especially pronounced during the later stages of dispersal. By adding information on the transient stage of dispersal and by comparing dispersers that successfully settled to dispersers that returned to their natal group, we expand on previous studies focusing on the earlier stages of dispersal. We propose that body mass and stress hormone levels are good indicators to investigate dispersal costs, as these traits often play an important role in mediating the effects of the environment on other life-history events and individual fitness.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Life Sciences > General Immunology and Microbiology
Physical Sciences > General Environmental Science
Life Sciences > General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, General Immunology and Microbiology, General Agricultural and Biological Sciences, General Environmental Science, General Medicine
Language:English
Date:13 February 2019
Deposited On:15 Mar 2019 12:56
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 10:17
Publisher:Royal Society Publishing
ISSN:0962-8452
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.0033
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDCR32I3_159743
  • : Project TitleEco-evolutionary mechanisms and demographic consequences of dispersal in socially structured populations

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