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Ruffs, Philomachus pugnax, and Distribution Models: Can Leks Be Regarded as Patches?

Jacob Höglund, Fredrik Widemo, William J. Sutherland and Helena Nordenfors
Oikos
Vol. 82, No. 2 (Jun., 1998), pp. 370-376
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos
DOI: 10.2307/3546978
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3546978
Page Count: 7
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Ruffs, Philomachus pugnax, and Distribution Models: Can Leks Be Regarded as Patches?
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Abstract

Theoretical distribution models may be applied to explain male distributions in lekking species if leks are regarded as patches differing in female encounter rate. Here, we investigate whether this assumption is valid in the ruff, Philomachus pugnax. Nests were found in places where the plant species composition was different as compared to randomly sampled plots. Furthermore, nests were found in higher than average vegetation and there was a positive relationship between the height of the surrounding vegetation and the number of females visiting and mating on a lek as well as the mean number of males occupying territories there. A positive relationship between the number of females visiting a lek and per capita male mating rate was also found. Males did not enjoy equal mating success, and the relative competitive ability of a male may determine his optimal lek site. These observations suggest that resources, in the form of suitable nesting habitat, to some extent determine where females mate and that the distribution of males in space, again to some extent is determined by the female distribution pattern and ultimately by the distribution of resources. Thus, empirical support for regarding leks as patches differing in female encounter rate exists in the ruff.

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