• matrilinearity;
  • kin selection;
  • spiral-horned antelopes;
  • natal dispersal;
  • inbreeding avoidance


In most mammals, females are philopatric while males disperse in order to avoid inbreeding. We investigated social structure in a solitary ungulate, the bushbuck Tragelaphus sylvaticus in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda by combining behavioural and molecular data. We correlated spatial and social vicinity of individual females with a relatedness score obtained from mitochondrial DNA analysis. Presumed clan members shared the same haplotype, showed more socio-positive interactions and had a common home range. Males had a higher haplotype diversity than females. All this suggests the presence of a matrilineal structure in the study population. Moreover, we tested natal dispersal distances between male and female yearlings and used control region sequences to confirm that females remain in their natal breeding areas whereas males disperse. In microsatellite analysis, males showed a higher genetic variability than females. The impoverished genetic variability of females at both molecular marker sets is consistent with a philopatric and matrilineal structure, while the higher degree of genetic variability of males is congruent with a higher dispersal rate expected in this sex. Evidence even for male long-distance dispersal is brought about by one male carrying a haplotype of a different subspecies, previously not described to occur in this area.