Sibship effects on dispersal behaviour in a pre-industrial human population

Article in a refereed journal

Charlotte Faurie, Virpi Lummaa and Aïda Nitsch, "Sibship effects on dispersal behaviour in a pre-industrial human population", Journal of Evolutionary Biology, vol. 29, n. 10, October 2016, p. 1986-1998. doi:10.5061/dryad.jt03g.


Understanding dispersal behaviour and its determinants is critical for studies on life-history maximizing strategies. Although many studies have investigated the causes of dispersal, few have focused on the importance of sibship, despite that sibling interactions are predicted to lead to intrafamilial differences in dispersal patterns. Using a large demographic data set from pre-industrial Finland (n = 9000), we tested whether the sex-specific probability of dispersal depended on the presence of same-sex or opposite-sex elder siblings who can both compete and cooperate in the family. Overall, following our predictions, the presence of same-sex elder siblings increased the probability of dispersal from natal population for both sexes, whereas the number of opposite-sex siblings had less influence. Among males, dispersal was strongly linked to access to land resources. Female dispersal was mainly associated with competition over availability of mates but likely mediated by competition over access to wealthy mates rather mate availability per se. Besides ecological constraints, sibling interactions are strongly linked with dispersal decisions and need to be better considered in the studies on the evolution of family dynamics and fitness maximizing strategies in humans and other species.

IAST Discipline

Print this page