Context-dependent dispersal, public information, and heterospecific attraction in newts

Abstract : Dispersal is one of the main processes that determine community structure. Individuals make dispersal decisions according to environmental and/or social cues that reflect the fitness prospects in a given patch. The presence and abundance of heterospecifics within the same ecological guild, and/or their breeding success, may act as public information that influences movement decisions. To date, most studies investigating the role of heterospecific attraction have focused on habitat choice, using both experimental and correlational approaches. The present study is the first to examine how long-term variation in heterospecific density in breeding patches may affect dispersal patterns in spatially structured populations. We investigate how the dispersal decisions of the great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) are related to the variable density of two other newt species, the alpine newt (Ichthyosaura alpestris) and the palmate newt (Lissotriton helveticus). To examine this issue, we used capture–recapture data collected in an experimental pond network over a 20-year period. The results revealed that the great crested newt’s dispersal is context dependent and is affected by variation in heterospecific density: individuals were less likely to emigrate from ponds with high heterospecific density and were more likely to immigrate to ponds with high heterospecific density. These findings suggest that individuals adjust their dispersal decisions at least partly based on public information provided by heterospecifics. This mechanism may play a critical role in the dynamics of spatially structured populations and community functioning.
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Hugo Cayuela, Odile Grolet, Pierre Joly. Context-dependent dispersal, public information, and heterospecific attraction in newts. Oecologia, Springer Verlag, 2018, 188 (4), pp.1069 - 1080. ⟨10.1007/s00442-018-4267-3⟩. ⟨hal-01931206⟩

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