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Quantifying partial migration with sex-ratio balancing

Ohms, Haley A., Gitelman, Alix I., Jordan, Chris E., Lytle, Dave A.
Canadian journal of zoology 2019 v.97 no.4 pp. 352-361
Bayesian theory, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, animals, data collection, ecosystems, mating systems, migratory behavior, sex ratio, uncertainty
Partial migration, the phenomenon in which animal populations are composed of both migratory and nonmigratory individuals, is widespread among migrating animals. The proportion of migrants in these populations has direct influences on population genetics and dynamics, ecosystem dynamics, mating systems, evolution, and responses to environmental change, yet there are very few studies that measure the proportion of migrants. This is because existing methods to estimate the proportion of migrants are time-consuming and expensive. In this paper, we demonstrate a new method for estimating the proportion of migrants in a population based on sex ratio measurements. Many partially migratory taxa exhibit sex-biased migration or residency, and in these cases, the sex ratios of migrants and nonmigrants are fundamentally related to the proportion of migrants in the population. We define this relationship quantitatively and show how it can be used to infer the proportion of migrants in a population through a process we term “sex-ratio balancing”. We obtain Bayesian estimates of proportion of migrants and quantify the uncertainty in these estimates with highest posterior density intervals. Lastly, we validate the sex-ratio balancing approach with a Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha Walbaum in Artedi, 1792) data set. Sex-ratio balancing holds promise as a tool for quantifying partial migration and filling a key data gap about partially migratory taxa.