Genetic evidence for sex-biased dispersal in resident bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus)

Luciana M. Möller*, Luciano B. Beheregaray

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    108 Citations (Scopus)


    In most mammals males usually disperse before breeding, while females remain in their natal group or area. However, in odontocete cetaceans behavioural and/or genetic evidence from populations of four species indicate that both males and females remain in their natal group or site. For coastal resident bottlenose dolphins field data suggest that both sexes are philopatric to their natal site. Assignment tests and analyses of relatedness based on microsatellite markers were used to investigate this hypothesis in resident bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops aduncus, from two small coastal populations of southeastern Australia. Mean corrected assignment and mean relatedness were higher for resident females than for resident males. Only 8% of resident females had a lower probability than average of being born locally compared to 33% of resident males. Our genetic data contradict the hypothesis of bisexual philopatry to natal site and suggest that these bottlenose dolphins are not unusual amongst mammals, with females being the more philopatric and males the more dispersing sex.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1607-1612
    Number of pages6
    JournalMolecular Ecology
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2004


    • Assignment tests
    • Bottlenose dolphins
    • Dispersal
    • Microsatellites
    • Philopatry
    • Relatedness


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