Article: article from journal or magazin.
Sex-specific estimates of dispersal show female philopatry and male dispersal in a promiscuous amphibian, the alpine salamander (Salamandra atra).
Amphibians display wide variations in life-history traits and life cycles that should prove useful to explore the evolution of sex-biased dispersal, but quantitative data on sex-specific dispersal patterns are scarce. Here, we focused on Salamandra atra, an endemic alpine species showing peculiar life-history traits. Strictly terrestrial and viviparous, the species has a promiscuous mating system, and females reproduce only every 3 to 4 years. In the present study, we provide quantitative estimates of asymmetries in male vs. female dispersal using both field-based (mark-recapture) and genetic approaches (detection of sex-biased dispersal and estimates of migration rates based on the contrast in genetic structure across sexes and age classes). Our results revealed a high level of gene flow among populations, which stems exclusively from male dispersal. We hypothesize that philopatric females benefit from being familiar with their natal area for the acquisition and defence of an appropriate shelter, while male dispersal has been secondarily favoured by inbreeding avoidance. Together with other studies on amphibians, our results indicate that a species' mating system alone is a poor predictor of sex-linked differences in dispersal, in particular for promiscuous species. Further studies should focus more directly on the proximate forces that favour or limit dispersal to refine our understanding of the evolution of sex-biased dispersal in animals.
amphibian, mark-recapture, mating system, microsatellite, population structure, sex-biased dispersal
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