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Inferring sex-biased dispersal from population genetic tools: a review

Centre d'Etude du Polymorphisme des Micro-organismes, UMR 9926 CNRS-IRD, Institut de Recherche et Développement, 911 av. Agropolis BP 5045, 34032 Montpellier cedex 1, France.
Heredity (Impact Factor: 3.8). 04/2002; 88(3):161-5. DOI: 10.1038/sj.hdy.6800060
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Sex-biased dispersal, where individuals of one sex stay or return to their natal site (or group) to breed while individuals of the other sex are prone to disperse, is a wide-spread pattern in vertebrate organisms. In general, mammals exhibit male-biased dispersal whereas birds exhibit female-bias. Dispersal estimates are often difficult to obtain from direct field observations. Here we describe different methods for inferring sex-specific dispersal using population genetic tools and discuss the problems they can raise. We distinguish two types of methods: those based on bi-parental markers (eg comparison of male/female relatedness, F(st) and assignment probabilities) and those relying on the comparison between markers with different modes of inheritance (eg mtDNA markers and microsatellites). Finally, we discuss statistical problems that are encountered with these different methods (eg pseudoreplication, problems due to the comparison of distinct markers). While the genetic methods to detect sex-biased dispersal are now relatively well developed, their interpretation can prove problematic due to the confounding effects of factors such as the mating system of the species. Moreover, the relative power of these methods is not well known and requires further investigation.

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