Evol Ecol Res 9: 887-903 (2007)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

The role of weather and migration in assortative pairing within the northern flicker (Colaptes auratus) hybrid zone

D.T. Tyler Flockhart and Karen L. Wiebe*

Department of Biology, University of Saskatchewan, 112 Science Place, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5E2, Canada

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: karen.wiebe@usask.ca


Hypothesis: In the absence of active mate choice, differences in migration patterns lead to assortative pairing between two subspecies of flickers. Large-scale variation in weather may affect migration patterns, which, in turn, may affect the availability of phenotypes during pairing.

Organism: Hybridizing subspecies of the northern flicker (Colaptes auratus): yellow-shafted (C. a. auratus) and red-shafted flickers (C. a. cafer).

Time and place: Between 1998 and 2006 in the hybrid zone at Riske Creek, British Columbia, Canada.

Methods: We captured breeding pairs of flickers, scored their phenotypes to calculate several hybrid indices, and correlated these indices between members of a pair. We used the North American band recovery database to plot migratory routes, and we used systematic surveys to document the arrival of phenotypes to the study area after spring migration. We correlated the annual strength of assortative pairing with regional and large-scale (North Atlantic Oscillation Index) weather patterns.

Results: There was assortative pairing based on individual plumage traits and an overall hybrid index. The subspecies of flickers wintered on opposite sides of the Rocky Mountain Range; hybrids from Riske Creek wintered west of the Rocky Mountains. There were no differences in spring arrival time or nest initiation date between phenotypes. The North Atlantic Oscillation correlated with the annual average phenotype on the study site and correlated weakly with the annual prevalence of assortative mating.

Conclusion: Large-scale weather patterns were associated with the annual prevalence of phenotypes and assortative mating in the northern portion of the hybrid zone, probably as a result of different migration patterns

Keywords: assortative mating, bounded hybrid superiority hypothesis, Colaptes auratus, hybridization, migration, North Atlantic Oscillation, northern flicker.

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        © 2007 Karen L. Wiebe. All EER articles are copyrighted by their authors. All authors endorse, permit and license Evolutionary Ecology Ltd. to grant its subscribing institutions/libraries the copying privileges specified below without additional consideration or payment to them or to Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. These endorsements, in writing, are on file in the office of Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. Consult authors for permission to use any portion of their work in derivative works, compilations or to distribute their work in any commercial manner.

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