Genetic consequences of sex-biased dispersal in a solitary carnivore: Yellowstone cougars

Roman Biek, Naomi Akamine, Michael K. Schwartz, Toni K. Ruth, Kerry M. Murphy, Mary Poss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Male-biased dispersal is a common trait in mammals, including carnivores, but its genetic consequences at the population level have been rarely considered for solitary species. We used long-term genetic data from cougars (Puma concolor) in and around Yellowstone National Park to test predictions based on differences in dispersal behaviour among males and females. Consistent with frequent long-distance dispersal of males, we found support for our prediction of less than expected allele sharing in pair-wise comparisons. In contrast, female residents present at the same time and females separated by few generations failed to share more alleles than expected, contrary to our predictions based on limited female dispersal. However, we find that genetic contributions of females with higher reproductive success were still noticeable in subsequent generations, consistent with female offspring showing fidelity to their natal area. These results highlight the importance of male dispersal for inbreeding avoidance, but do not indicate that short-distance dispersal or philopatry in female cougars results in spatial clustering of related individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)312-315
Number of pages4
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 22 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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