Highly asymmetric fine-scale genetic structure between sexes of African striped mice and indication for condition dependent alternative male dispersal tactics

Authors

  • N. SOLMSEN,

    1. Zoological Institute, Department of Ecology, University of Mainz, Saarstrasse 21, D-55099 Mainz, Germany
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    • Shared first authorship.

  • J. JOHANNESEN,

    1. Zoological Institute, Department of Ecology, University of Mainz, Saarstrasse 21, D-55099 Mainz, Germany
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    • Shared first authorship.

  • C. SCHRADIN

    1. Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zürich, Winterthurerstr. 190, 8057 Zürich, Switzerland
    2. School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, Johannesburg, South Africa
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Jes Johannesen, Fax: +45 6131-3923733; E-mail: jesjo@uni-mainz.de

Abstract

Sex-biased dispersal is observed in many taxa, but few studies have compared sex-biased dispersal among and within populations. We addressed the magnitude and habitat dependency of sex-biased dispersal in social African striped mice by separating group-related from population-related genetic variance to understand the contribution of each sex to deme structure. As dispersal over unoccupied habitat is likely to be more costly than dispersal within a population, we predicted that individuals leaving the natal population have a lower body condition, being inferior to heavier territorial individuals. Fine-scale genetic structure was detected in both sexes. Female relatedness decreased continuously from R = 0.21 at 25 m to zero at 500 m. Maximum male relatedness R = 0.05 was constant at distances between 25 and 75 m, becoming zero at 100 m. Genetic variance (FST) among seven locations was significantly higher in females than in males, while inbreeding estimates (FIS) were significantly higher in males than in females. Assignment tests estimated significantly more migrants among males, while Bayesian clustering estimated only a single genetic unit cluster for males among the seven locations. The mean body mass of migrant males (44 g) was significantly lower than for males that remained resident and thus dispersed within their sub-population (48 g). Combined, the results showed habitat-independent male-biased dispersal and high female philopatry, and suggested that body condition was more important than kinship in male dispersal decisions. We suggest that locally inferior males are important for gene flow between sub-populations. Thus, males might follow alternative dispersal tactics.

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