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Title: Migration patterns of the redbilled quelea (Quelea quelea) in southern Africa : genetics, morphology and behaviour
Author: Dallimer, Martin
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2000
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The redbilled quelea Quelea quelea is the most numerous bird in the world. It is found throughout the drier parts of sub-Saharan Africa where it is a serious pest of grain crops. Better management and control of the redbilled quelea as a pest requires a thorough understanding of its migration patterns. This thesis presents three techniques to analyse the migration patterns of redbilled quelea in southern Africa. The genetic structure of redbilled quelea from 32 sites across southern Africa was studied using eight polymorphic microsatellite loci. No evidence of population division was found even though a variety of analysis techniques were used. There was no evidence for regular migration pathways or the existence of a migratory divide. However evidence was found for differential dispersal between the sexes; male quelea dispersed further from their natal flocks than females. In a parentage study, 22.6% of chicks were not related to their social father, while 8.5% of chicks were not related to either of the parents assigned to them by behavioural observations. The redbilled quelea is sexually dimorphic. Across Africa three subspecies have been described based on the variation in male breeding plumage. Two separate techniques were used to analyse this variation: plumage colour was scored using the human eye and colour variation was assessed using the software package Photoshop. Despite a second subspecies having been described for southern Africa, no evidence was found for geographic variation in male breeding plumage patterns. Redbilled quelea migration is determined by the regular patterns of seasonal rainfall. In central southern Africa rainfronts approach from two different directions indicating that a migratory divide could exist for redbilled quelea. The direction preferences of redbilled quelea ready to migrate were tested in the wild using Emlen funnels. Two distinct migration directions were preferred by redbilled quelea indicating the possible presence of a migratory divide.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available