Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Sharon A. Gill

Second Advisor

Dr. Maarten Vonhof

Third Advisor

Dr. Steven Kohler


Birds, delayed dispersal, natal dispersal, kin structure, family living

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Family-living species provide an exciting model to examine how natal dispersal and kin structure influence genetic structuring within local populations. Juvenile buff-breasted wrens (Cantorchilus leucotis) of both sexes delay dispersal and exhibit short-distance natal dispersal, which should lead to kin-structured populations in which relatives of both sexes occupy neighboring territories. Blood samples collected from juvenile and adult wrens in Gamboa, Panama were analyzed using microsatellite markers to determine whether related individuals are spatially clustered on neighboring territories, spatial clusters of relatives change over time, and if kin structure is sex-specific. Global and local spatial autocorrelation analyses detected genetic structuring among males over time, however this pattern was not prevalent among females. These spatial genetic patterns suggest that males may disperse shorter distances than females, which may lead to genetic structuring. When subject to genetic drift and isolation by distance, this kin structuring may increase the probability of population differentiation among behaviorally and geographically isolated populations.