Research Publication
Professorial Lecturer of Biology Elise Ferree
Professorial Lecturer Elise Ferree recently published two papers on western bluebirds in the field of animal behavior. She is first author on the first paper, "Male western bluebirds that sire extrapair young are also successful within-pair mates," investigates whether there are reproductive trade-offs for socially monogamous males that have "affairs" with females other than their social mate; males that seek so-called extra-pair mates could, for example, lose paternity in their home nest. On the contrary, these males actually have twice as many offspring as males that only father young with their social mate. This study, coauthored with Janis Dickinson from Cornell University, provides context for the evolution of alternative mating strategies but also raise questions about the qualities that make certain males so much more successful than others.

The second paper, "Delayed dispersal in western bluebirds: teasing apart the importance of resources and parents," is written with coauthors Janis Dickinson, Caitlin A. Stern and Rose Swift from Cornell and Benjamin Zuckerberg from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. This study examines the reasons that first-year bluebird males try to remain near home rather than disperse to breed. Many previous studies have examined the importance of resources males gain from their natal territory, but this work shows that parental favoritism can also be a driver of natal philopatry.



Back to News List