Using Genealogical Mapping and Genetic Neighborhood Sizes to Quantify Dispersal Distances in the Neotropical Passerine, the Black-Capped Vireo. Academic Article uri icon


  • Dispersal is a key demographic process, ultimately responsible for genetic connectivity among populations. Despite its importance, quantifying dispersal within and between populations has proven difficult for many taxa. Even in passerines, which are among the most intensely studied, individual movement and its relation to gene flow remains poorly understood. In this study we used two parallel genetic approaches to quantify natal dispersal distances in a Neotropical migratory passerine, the black-capped vireo. First, we employed a strategy of sampling evenly across the landscape coupled with parentage assignment to map the genealogical relationships of individuals across the landscape, and estimate dispersal distances; next, we calculated Wright's neighborhood size to estimate gene dispersal distances. We found that a high percentage of captured individuals were assigned at short distances within the natal population, and males were assigned to the natal population more often than females, confirming sex-biased dispersal. Parentage-based dispersal estimates averaged 2400m, whereas gene dispersal estimates indicated dispersal distances ranging from 1600-4200 m. Our study was successful in quantifying natal dispersal distances, linking individual movement to gene dispersal distances, while also providing a detailed look into the dispersal biology of Neotropical passerines. The high-resolution information was obtained with much reduced effort (sampling only 20% of breeding population) compared to mark-resight approaches, demonstrating the potential applicability of parentage-based approaches for quantifying dispersal in other vagile passerine species.

published proceedings

  • PLoS One

author list (cited authors)

  • Athrey, G., Lance, R. F., & Leberg, P. L.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Athrey, Giridhar||Lance, Richard F||Leberg, Paul L

editor list (cited editors)

  • Mettke-Hofmann, C.

publication date

  • October 2015