Evol Ecol Res 8: 1029-1038 (2006)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Genetic differences between early- and late-breeding Eurasian kestrels

Stefania Casagrande,1* Giacomo Dell’Omo,2 David Costantini3 and James Tagliavini1

1Dipartimento di Biologia Evolutiva e Funzionale, University of Parma, Parma, Italy,  2Division of Neuroanatomy and Behaviour, Anatomy Institute, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland and  3Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e dell’Uomo, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy

Address all correspondence to Stefania Casagrande, Dipartimento di Biologia Evolutiva e Funzionale, University of Parma, Parco Area delle Scienze 11/a, 43100 Parma, Italy.
e-mail: casagrande@biol.unipr.it


Question: Is there a genetic difference between early-breeding kestrels (Falco tinnunculus), which typically lay five or six eggs, and late-breeding kestrels, which, although sympatric, usually lay only four eggs?

Field site: Cultivated and set-aside fields of a Mediterranean area of 1200 km2, near Rome, Italy.

Methods: We compared the genotypes of chicks belonging to the two groups by analysing the difference at five microsatellite loci.

Conclusions: Early- and late-hatched chicks are genetically dissimilar, with an average FST-value of 0.058. This result suggests assortative mating-by-time and the possibility of adaptive divergence between early and late breeders within sympatric populations.

Keywords: clutch size, Eurasian kestrel, genetic differentiation, laying date, microsatellites, population genetics, timing of breeding.

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