Sex–biased dispersal in a salmonid fish

Jeffrey A. Hutchings, Leah Gerber

Abstract

We tested the hypothesis that dispersal is sex biased in an unexploited population of brook trout, Salvelinus fontinalis, on Cape Race, Newfoundland, Canada. Based on the assumptions that trout are promiscuous and that reproductive success is limited primarily by either number of mates (males) or fecundity (females), we predicted that males would disperse greater distances than females. We also tested the hypothesis that trout populations comprise stationary and mobile individuals, predicting that males have greater mobility than females. Based on a mark–recapture study of 943 individually tagged fishes, 191 of which were recaptured over 5 years, we find strong support for our hypothesis of male–biased dispersal in brook trout. Averaged among all 11 resampling periods, males dispersed 2.5 times as far as females; during the spawning period only, male dispersal exceeded that by females almost fourfold. Both sexes were heterogeneous with respect to movement, with a lower incidence of mobility among females (29.6%) than males (41.1%); mobile males dispersed six times further than mobile females. We conclude that this sex bias reduces mate competition among male kin and decreases the probability that males will reproduce with related females.