Variation in habitat choice and delayed reproduction: Adaptive queuing strategies or individual quality differences?

M. Van de Pol, I. Pen, D. Heg, F.J. Weissing

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
406 Downloads (Pure)


In most species, some individuals delay reproduction or occupy inferior breeding positions. The queue hypothesis tries to explain both patterns by proposing that individuals strategically delay breeding (queue) to acquire better breeding or social positions. In 1995, Ens, Weissing, and Drent addressed evolutionarily stable queuing strategies in situations with habitat heterogeneity. However, their model did not consider the non - mutually exclusive individual quality hypothesis, which suggests that some individuals delay breeding or occupy inferior breeding positions because they are poor competitors. Here we extend their model with individual differences in competitive abilities, which are probably plentiful in nature. We show that including even the smallest competitive asymmetries will result in individuals using queuing strategies completely different from those in models that assume equal competitors. Subsequently, we investigate how well our models can explain settleme! nt patterns in the wild, using a long-term study on oystercatchers. This long-lived shorebird exhibits strong variation in age of first reproduction and territory quality. We show that only models that include competitive asymmetries can explain why oystercatchers' settlement patterns depend on natal origin. We conclude that predictions from queuing models are very sensitive to assumptions about competitive asymmetries, while detecting such differences in the wild is often problematic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)530-541
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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