Does Natal Territory Quality Predict Human Dispersal Choices? A Test of Emlen's Model of Family Formation

Elizabeth R. Blum

PhD Thesis 2004

In species with prenatal care, most offspring disperse from the natal territory at sexual maturity or when they are competent to survive independently. However, in a relatively small number of species, dispersal does not coincide with these developmental markers. Instead, offspring remain on the natal territory, competing for resources and sometimes helping raise other young. One or more ecological factors are undoubtedly involved in delaying dispersal in these species. Much research suggests that, in species that exhibit delayed dispersal, variables that contribute to the quality of the natal territory are an important influence on the timing of dispersal. This dissertation tests the hypothesis that individuals from higher quality natal territories should be more discriminating in their dispersal choices.