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Proc Biol Sci. 2006 Feb 7;273(1584):341-8.

Dispersal is not female biased in a resource-defence mating ungulate, the European roe deer.

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Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique Comportement et Ecologie de la Faune Sauvage B.P. 52627, 31326 Castanet-Tolosan cedex, France.


Dispersal is frequently more prevalent in one sex compared to the other. Greenwood proposed that patterns of sex-biased dispersal among birds and mammals are linked to their mating strategies. For species where males defend resources rather than females, he predicted female-biased dispersal, because males should remain at their birth site where they are familiar with the distribution of the resources that they must defend. Greenwood's hypothesis has been extensively supported among birds, where most species exhibit a resource-defence mating strategy. However, almost no equivalent information is available for mammals as males generally defend mates in this group. An exception is the European roe deer, a resource-defence mating ungulate. We thus tested Greenwood's hypothesis on this atypical mammalian model, looking for female-biased dispersal using sex-specific inter-individual genetic distances. We conclusively show that gene flow is not higher among females compared to males in the studied roe deer population, and hence that dispersal is not female-biased, suggesting that male mating strategy is not the primary selective force driving the evolution of dispersal in roe deer. We discuss the role of female mate choice and intra-sexual competition as possible alternative selective pressures involved.

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