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Sexual segregation in marine fish, reptiles, birds and mammals behaviour patterns, mechanisms and conservation implications
Wearmouth, V.J.; Sims, D.W. (2008). Sexual segregation in marine fish, reptiles, birds and mammals behaviour patterns, mechanisms and conservation implications. Adv. Mar. Biol. 54: 107-170. dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0065-2881(08)00002-3
In: Advances in Marine Biology. Academic Press: London, New York. ISSN 0065-2881, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Cetacea [WoRMS]; Otariidae Gray, 1825 [WoRMS]; Phocidae Gray, 1821 [WoRMS]; Scyliorhinus canicula (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]; Marine
Author keywords
    Spatial ecology; Sociality; Telemetry; Satellite; Archival tracking; Scyliorhinus canicula; Male avoidance; Sex-biased mortality; Seal; Whale

Authors  Top 
  • Wearmouth, V.J.
  • Sims, D.W.

Abstract
    Sexual segregation occurs when members of a species separate such that the sexes live apart, either singly or in single-sex groups. It can be broadly categorised into two types: habitat segregation and social segregation. Sexual segregation is a behavioural phenomenon that is widespread in the animal kingdom yet the underlying causes remain poorly understood. Sexual segregation has been widely studied among terrestrial mammals such as ungulates, but it has been less well documented in the marine environment. This chapter clarifies terms and concepts which have emerged from the investigation of sexual segregation in terrestrial ecology and examines how a similar methodological approach may be complicated by differences of marine species. Here we discuss the behavioural patterns of sexual segregation among marine fish, reptile, bird and mammal species. Five hypotheses have been forwarded to account for sexual segregation, largely emerging from investigation of sexual segregation in terrestrial ungulates: the predation risk, forage selection, activity budget, thermal niche-fecundity and social factors hypotheses. These mechanisms are reviewed following careful assessment of their applicability to marine vertebrate species and case studies of marine vertebrates which support each mechanism recounted. Rigorous testing of all hypotheses is lacking from both the terrestrial and marine vertebrate literature and those analyses which have been attempted are often confounded by factors such as sexual body-size dimorphism. In this context, we indicate the value of studying model species which are monomorphic with respect to body size and discuss possible underlying causes for sexual segregation in this species. We also discuss why it is important to understand sexual segregation, for example, by illustrating how differential exploitation of the sexes by humans can lead to population decline.

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