Aurélie Quinard PhD thesis

Thumbnail imageIndividual genetic diversity, morphological and behavioral differentiation between sexes, mating patterns and demographic parameters in a tropical and monogamous bird species, the Zenaida dove, Zenaida aurita

Supervisor: Frank Cézilly

Beginning: october 2010



Research in avian behavioral ecology is affected by a known bias in favour of temperate species. Meanwhile, the greatest diversity of bird species can be found in the tropics. Because of radically remote natural conditions, accumulated knowledge on species from high and mid-latitudes is hardly relevant to species living in tropical regions.

We propose to reduce the lack of information about tropical birds through the study of a socially monogamous species, reproducing and defending an all-purpose territory all year round, the Zenaida dove, Zenaida aurita. To that end, we used monitoring data from a population of ringed birds in Barbados for six years. Firstly, we focused on plumage coloration both to ascertain the sexually mono- or dichromatic nature of this species and whether plumage colour reflects individual quality. We then explored pairing patterns in relation to to genome-wide heterozygosity and body size (tarsus lengh and wing chord). To determine the strength of pair bonding in this species, we assessed divorce rate in our population, evaluated which hypotheses could explain divorce cases, and listed the consequences of mate loss and mate switching following divorce and widowhood. This study was followed by the characterization of sex roles within pairs during various activities such as singing, nest building, juvenile care and territorial defense. Finally, capture-mark-recapture analysis allowed us to estimate survival rate in our population as well as influence of heterozygosity degree and wing chord on individual survival. Overall, the Zenaida dove appears to conform to the behavioral, ecological and demographic features characterizing tropical species with perennial monogamy.



social monogamy, Zenaida aurita, heterozygosity, size, plumage coloration, mutual mate choice, divorce, widowhood, sex roles, survival



Sandrine Meylan, Paris Sorbonne-IUFM – rapporteur
Dominique Allainé, université Lyon I – rapporteur
Frank Cézilly, université de Bourgogne – supervisor
William Vickery, université du Québec à Montréal – examinateur
Jacques Caneill, AgroSup Dijon – examinateur
Rémi Wattier, université de Bourgogne – examinateur