Gene flow and immigration rate in an island population of great tits

S. Verhulst, H.M. Van Eck

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    It is generally recognized that immigration and gene flow cannot be equated, but few detailed quantitative comparisons of these processes have been made over the entire lifetime of individual animals. We analyzed data collected in a longterm study of an island population of great tits Parus major, and tested two assumptions frequently made in population genetic studies. (1) The assumption that there is no difference in reproductive output between immigrant and resident breeding birds was refuted for females but not for males. Lifetime production of local recruits (LRS) was reduced by 37% in immigrant females, because female immigrants tended to leave the island after breeding, and thus reproduced for fewer years. Female LRS was density dependent, but the effect of density was independent of status (resident/immigrant). (2) The assumption that mating was random with respect to status was also refuted: assortative mating was found, even when temporal and spatial aggregation of immigrants was controlled for. Thus both assumptions were refuted, and gene flow was lower than immigration rate. [KEYWORDS: gene flow; immigration; LRS; density dependence; assortative mating; Parus major Parus-major; survival; density; winter; pair]
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)771-782
    JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 1996


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