Within clutch co-variation of egg mass and sex in the black-headed gull

Wendt Mueller, TGG Groothuis, CM Eising, S Daan, C Dijkstra

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Abstract

Female birds of several species have control over the production of daughters and sons. However, most studies failed to find a relationship between egg size and sex. This is intriguing as adjustment of egg size would constitute a powerful tool for the female to meet different resource demands of the sexes, particularly in size dimorphic species. Our results show that, within clutches of black-headed gulls (Larus ridibundus) the proportion of males was positively associated with egg mass. This applied for all three laying positions, independently of the absolute egg mass. There was a significant relationship between the distribution of the sexes over the laying sequence and the egg mass change. When egg mass decreased over the sequence, first-laid eggs were male biased and last-laid eggs female biased, and vice versa. The potential adaptive value of this allocation strategy is evaluated with regard to male sensitivity to egg quality and competitive differences between the sexes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-668
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume18
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May-2005

Keywords

  • brood reduction
  • egg mass
  • egg quality
  • hatching asynchrony
  • maternal effects
  • sex ratio
  • KESTRELS FALCO-SPARVERIUS
  • BIASED HATCHING ORDER
  • OFFSPRING SEX
  • SIZE DIMORPHISM
  • REPRODUCTIVE SUCCESS
  • SIBLING COMPETITION
  • ZEBRA FINCHES
  • LARUS-FUSCUS
  • RATIO
  • BIRDS

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