[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Life-history theory predicts skewed offspring sex ratios in a range of situations in which the costs and benefits of producing the two sexes differ. In recent years, many studies have demonstrated biased sex ratios in a variety of bird species. However, many of these investigations have been based on small sample sizes, on data from a single year, or both. Using a recently developed polymerase chain reaction-based molecular DNA technique, 912 great tit (Parus major) nestlings from 118 broods in 5 different years were sexed. As found in a number of previous studies on the same species, there were significant predictors of offspring sex ratio in individual years. However, there were no consistent trends across years, and none of the measured variables signif- icantly predicted sex ratio over all years combined. Furthermore, brood sex ratio of the population did not depart from the expected binomial distribution. Although there are theoretical advantages to manipulating the sex ratio in this and other species, the physiological mechanism by which it is achieved in birds remains obscure. We argue that data from several years are needed to confirm whether facultative sex ratio manipulation is a consistent breeding strategy used by birds. Key words: great tits, molecular sexing, Parus major, sex ratios. (Behav Ecol 11:294-298 (2000))
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nest-defence behaviour of passerines is a form of parental investment. Parents are selected, therefore, to vary the intensity of their nest defence with respect to the value of their offspring. Great tit, Parus major, males were tested for their defence response to both a nest predator and playback of a great tit chick distress call. The results from the two trials were similar; males gave more alarm calls and made more perch changes if they had larger broods and if they had a greater proportion of sons in their brood. This is the first evidence for a relationship between nest-defence intensity and offspring sex ratio. Paternal quality, size, age and condition, lay date and chick condition did not significantly influence any of the measured nest-defence parameters.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 04/2000; 267(1443):535-8. DOI:10.1098/rspb.2000.1033 · 5.05 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Where maternal condition affects condition and reproductive potential of offspring differentially with respect to sex, mothers in relatively good condition should produce more of the sex whose fitness is more dependent on condition. We experimentally manipulated body-condition in unmated zebra finches by feeding them for three months on high- or low-quality diets. Birds were then allowed to breed, while keeping the same diets. Females on the lower quality diet were in better condition and hatched significantly more males than females. Poorer condition females hatched an equal sex ratio. Chicks fed on the low-quality diet, but not on the high-quality diet, showed female-biased mortality. These results show that facultative sex ratio manipulation and sex-biased mortality can act together to produce extreme sex ratios in this vertebrate.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 05/1998; 265(1399). DOI:10.1098/rspb.1998.0375 · 5.05 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tawny owls, Strix aluco, laid female-biased clutches on territories with more abundant prey (field voles) in June, the month that chicks fledge. This appeared to enhance the subsequent reproductive success of fledglings, as in 1995 there was a significant correlation between the number of chicks fledged by adult females and the June vole abundance in the territory on which they were reared as chicks. This relationship did not hold for males. Since tawny owls lay eggs in March, these results indicate that owls are able to predict the June vole numbers on their territory, and respond by producing more of the sex most likely to gain a long-term benefit when resources are good.
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Containing papers of a Biological character. Royal Society (Great Britain) 08/1997; 264(1385). DOI:10.1098/rspb.1997.0153