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

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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
Externally publishedYes


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


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