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Sexual segregation (biology)

In biology, sexual segregation is the differential use of space, habitats, and resources by males and females, or the separation of males and females into different social groups outside the breeding season. Sexual segregation is widespread among animals, especially among vertebrates that live in groups, and has also been observed in plants.[1][2][3][4] It was first formally proposed by Charles Darwin in his book The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex.[1]


Sexual segregation has traditionally been defined as the differential use of space (spatial segregation) or habitat (habitat segregation) by males and females. Recently, it has also been defined as the separation of males and females into different social groups (social segregation) outside the breeding season. Some authors consider social segregation to be a by-product of habitat segregation but it is now known that social segregation can occur independently of habitat segregation.[1][2][5] Conradt (2005) argued that spatial segregation should be treated as a auxiliary concept as both habitat segregation and social segregation can lead to spatial segregation.[6]


  1. ^ a b c Bowyer, R. Terry (21 December 2004). "Sexual Segregation in Ruminants: Definitions, Hypotheses, and Implications for Conservation and Management". Journal of Mammalogy. Oxford University Press. 85 (6): 1039–1052. doi:10.1644/BBL-002.1.
  2. ^ a b Ruckstuhl, Kathreen E. (13 June 2007). "Sexual segregation in vertebrates: proximate and ultimate causes". Integrative and Comparative Biology. Oxford University Press. 47 (2): 245–257. doi:10.1093/icb/icm030. PMID 21672835.
  3. ^ Wearmouth, Victoria J.; Sims, David W. (20 October 2008). "Chapter 2: Sexual Segregation in Marine Fish, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals: Behaviour Patterns, Mechanisms and Conservation Implications" (PDF). In Sims, David W. (ed.). Advances in Marine Biology. Vol. 54. Academic Press. pp. 107–170. doi:10.1016/S0065-2881(08)00002-3. ISBN 9780123743510. ISSN 0065-2881. PMID 18929064. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 July 2020.
  4. ^ Santora, Tara (2 June 2020). "Should Ecologists Treat Male and Female Animals like 'Different Species'". Scientific American. Springer Nature. Archived from the original on 24 July 2020. Retrieved 24 July 2020.
  5. ^ Conradt, Larissa (March 1998). "Measuring the degree of sexual segregation in group-living animals". Journal of Animal Ecology. Wiley. 67 (2): 217–226. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2656.1998.00183.x.
  6. ^ Conradt, Larissa (2005). "Chapter 2: Definitions, hypotheses, models and measures in the study of animal segregation". In Ruckstuhl, Kathreen E.; Neuhaus, Peter (eds.). Sexual Segregation in Vertebrates: Ecology of the Two Sexes. Cambridge University Press. pp. 11–32. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511525629.003. ISBN 9780521835220.
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Sexual segregation (biology)
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