Original Paper

Evolutionary Ecology

, 21:229

First online:

Fluctuating sex ratios, but no sex-biased dispersal, in a promiscuous fish

  • Sofía ConsuegraAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Wales SwanseaGatty Marine Institute, University of St. Andrews Email author 
  • , Carlos García de LeánizAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Wales Swansea

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Dispersal in birds and mammals tends to be female-biased in monogamous species and male-biased in polygamous species. However results for other taxa, most notably fish, are equivocal. We employed molecular markers and physical tags to test the hypothesis that Atlantic salmon, a promiscuous species with intense male-male competition for access to females, displays male-biased dispersal. We found significant variation in sex ratios and in asymmetric gene flow between neighbouring salmon populations, but little or no evidence for sex-biased dispersal. We show that conditions favouring male dispersal will often be offset by those favouring female dispersal, and that spatial and temporal variation in sex ratios within a metapopulation may favour the dispersal of different sexes in source and sink habitats. Thus, our results reconcile previous discrepancies on salmonid dispersal and highlight the need to consider metapopulation dynamics and sex ratios in the study of natal dispersal of highly fecund species.


Sex ratios Sex-biased dispersal Asymmetric gene flow mtDNA Microsatellites Atlantic salmon Metapopulation