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Sex, isolation and fidelity: unbiased long-distance dispersal in a terrestrial amphibian

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Amphibians in general are considered poor dispersers and thus their dispersal curve should be dominated by short movements. Additionally, as male toads do not compete for females and sexual selection is by female choice, dispersal should be male-biased. Furthermore, since adults are site-loyal and polygynous, juveniles should move farther and faster than adults. We tested the hypotheses that dispersal would be limited and both sex- and age-biased in a population of Fowler's toads Bufo fowleri at Lake Erie, Ontario, Canada. Based on a mark-recapture study of 2816 toads, 1326 recaptured at least once, we found that although the toads did show high site fidelity, the dispersal curve was highly skewed with a significant “tail” where the maximum distance moved by an adult was 34 km. Dispersal was neither sex-biased nor age-biased despite clear theoretical predictions that dispersal should be biased towards males and juveniles. We conclude that the resource competition hypothesis of sex-biased dispersal does not predict dispersal tendencies as readily for amphibians as for mammals and birds. Toad dispersal only appears to be juvenile-biased because the juveniles are more abundant than the adults, not because they are the more active dispersers.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2006

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