Social mating system and sex-biased dispersal in mammals and birds: A phylogenetic analysis

K.E. Mabry, E.L. Shelley, Katie E Davis, D.T. Blumstein, D.H. van Vuren

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Abstract

The hypothesis that patterns of sex-biased dispersal are related to social mating system in mammals and birds has gained widespread acceptance over the past 30 years. However, two major complications have obscured the relationship between these two behaviors: 1) dispersal frequency and dispersal distance, which measure different aspects of the dispersal process, have often been confounded, and 2) the relationship between mating system and sex-biased dispersal in these vertebrate groups has not been examined using modern phylogenetic comparative methods. Here, we present a phylogenetic analysis of the relationship between mating system and sex-biased dispersal in mammals and birds. Results indicate that the evolution of female-biased dispersal in mammals may be more likely on monogamous branches of the phylogeny, and that females may disperse farther than males in socially monogamous mammalian species. However, we found no support for a relationship between social mating system and sex-biased dispersal in birds when the effects of phylogeny are taken into consideration. We caution that although there are larger-scale behavioral differences in mating system and sex-biased dispersal between mammals and birds, mating system and sex-biased dispersal are far from perfectly associated within these taxa.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere57980
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume8
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2013

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