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Genetic evidence for female-biased dispersal and gene flow in a polygynous primate

Hammond, Robert L.; Handley, Lori J. Lawson; Winney, Bruce J.; Bruford, Michael W.; Perrin, Nicolas


Robert L. Hammond

Bruce J. Winney

Michael W. Bruford

Nicolas Perrin


Many models of sex-biased dispersal predict that the direction of sex-bias depends upon a species' mating system. In agreement with this, almost all polygynous mammals show male-biased dispersal whereas largely monogamous birds show female-biased dispersal (FBD). The hamadryas baboon (Papio hamadryas hamadryas) is polygynous and so dispersal is predicted to be male biased, as is found in all other baboon subspecies, but there are conflicting field data showing both female and male dispersal. Using 19 autosomal genetic markers genotyped in baboons from four Saudi Arabian populations, we found strong evidence for FBD in post-dispersal adults but not, as expected, in pre-dispersal infants and young juveniles, when we compared male and female: population structure (Fst), inbreeding (Fis), relatedness (r), and the mean assignment index (mAIc). Furthermore, we found evidence for female-biased gene flow as population genetic structure (Fst), was about four times higher for the paternally inherited Y, than for either autosomal markers or for maternally inherited mtDNA. These results contradict the direction of sex-bias predicted by the mating system and show that FBD has evolved recently from an ancestral state of male-biased dispersal. We suggest that the cost–benefit balance of dispersal to males and females is tightly linked to the unique hierarchical social structure of hamadryas baboons and that dispersal and social organization have coevolved.


Hammond, R. L., Handley, L. J. L., Winney, B. J., Bruford, M. W., & Perrin, N. (2006). Genetic evidence for female-biased dispersal and gene flow in a polygynous primate. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 273(1585), 479-484.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 11, 2005
Publication Date Feb 22, 2006
Journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Biological Sciences
Print ISSN 0962-8452
Electronic ISSN 1471-2970
Publisher The Royal Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 273
Issue 1585
Pages 479-484
Keywords General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology; General Immunology and Microbiology; General Agricultural and Biological Sciences; General Environmental Science; General Medicine
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