Sex-biased dispersal and a density-independent mating system in the Australian brushtail possum, as revealed by minisatellite DNA profiling

Weihong Ji, S.D. Sarre, Niccy Aitken, R.K.S. Hankin, Mick Clout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Natal dispersal can have important effects on mammal population structure and dynamics following a local population crash. Such dispersal is of practical importance when applied to the control of pest species because dispersal may significantly, and undesirably, reduce the population recovery time following a control operation. The relative dispersal rate of the sexes is also critical because that too will affect the rate of population increase. Here, we describe a field experiment in which we reduce the density of two populations of the Australian brushtail possum, and use genetic similarity, as estimated by minisatellite DNA profiles, to investigate dispersal in the original (undisturbed) and recovering populations. Our results show that the genetic similarity within the undisturbed populations was lower between males than between females. Conversely, the genetic similarities between males and females in the two recovering populations were not significantly different, while relatedness among males was significantly higher in the recovering populations when compared with those in the pre-removal populations. These data indicate two important characteristics of dispersal in possums: (i) that dispersal in established populations is sex biased towards males; and (ii) that within the first 3 years following population control, 'the vacuum effect', whereby individuals from areas adjacent to a control area expand their home range and invade the depopulated area, is the most important factor in the re-colonization process for possums. We found no evidence that the mating system, which is polygynous, varied when the density was markedly reduced. These results indicate that drastic reductions in population density by conventional control will not affect the rate of spread of biological control agents that rely on sexual transmission for dissemination.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1527-1537
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Ecology
Volume10
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Minisatellite Repeats
DNA Fingerprinting
minisatellite repeats
DNA fingerprinting
mating systems
reproductive strategy
DNA
gender
Population
Population Density
natal dispersal
pest species
recolonization
home range
relatedness
Homing Behavior
biological control
Biological Control Agents
population structure
possums

Cite this

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title = "Sex-biased dispersal and a density-independent mating system in the Australian brushtail possum, as revealed by minisatellite DNA profiling",
abstract = "Natal dispersal can have important effects on mammal population structure and dynamics following a local population crash. Such dispersal is of practical importance when applied to the control of pest species because dispersal may significantly, and undesirably, reduce the population recovery time following a control operation. The relative dispersal rate of the sexes is also critical because that too will affect the rate of population increase. Here, we describe a field experiment in which we reduce the density of two populations of the Australian brushtail possum, and use genetic similarity, as estimated by minisatellite DNA profiles, to investigate dispersal in the original (undisturbed) and recovering populations. Our results show that the genetic similarity within the undisturbed populations was lower between males than between females. Conversely, the genetic similarities between males and females in the two recovering populations were not significantly different, while relatedness among males was significantly higher in the recovering populations when compared with those in the pre-removal populations. These data indicate two important characteristics of dispersal in possums: (i) that dispersal in established populations is sex biased towards males; and (ii) that within the first 3 years following population control, 'the vacuum effect', whereby individuals from areas adjacent to a control area expand their home range and invade the depopulated area, is the most important factor in the re-colonization process for possums. We found no evidence that the mating system, which is polygynous, varied when the density was markedly reduced. These results indicate that drastic reductions in population density by conventional control will not affect the rate of spread of biological control agents that rely on sexual transmission for dissemination.",
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Sex-biased dispersal and a density-independent mating system in the Australian brushtail possum, as revealed by minisatellite DNA profiling. / Ji, Weihong; Sarre, S.D.; Aitken, Niccy; Hankin, R.K.S.; Clout, Mick.

In: Molecular Ecology, Vol. 10, No. 6, 2001, p. 1527-1537.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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T1 - Sex-biased dispersal and a density-independent mating system in the Australian brushtail possum, as revealed by minisatellite DNA profiling

AU - Ji, Weihong

AU - Sarre, S.D.

AU - Aitken, Niccy

AU - Hankin, R.K.S.

AU - Clout, Mick

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