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We monitored male natal dispersal and space use in three experimental populations of Clethrionomys rufocanus with known kinship. Only 10% of the males that were recruited to these populations settled close to their natal site as reproductive adults. The presence of close relatives (mothers and siblings) had no influence on the propensity for dispersal in young males. Home range overlap with mothers and other males decreased with dispersal distance. However, in general, the degree of space sharing with other reproductive animals was not affected by kinship. We conclude from our analysis of space use and natal dispersal that kin-recognition mechanisms do not seem to play any role in structuring free-ranging populations of C. rufocanus. We suggest that heavily male-biased dispersal, predominant female territoriality and a promiscuous mating system are sufficient factors to prevent inbreeding and kin-selection.
Oikos © 1991 Nordic Society Oikos