Seasonal Sex Ratio Trend in the European Kestrel: An Evolutionarily Stable Strategy Analysis

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We present an evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS) model to analyze selection on seasonal variation in the brood sex ratio, as observed in several species of raptorial birds. The model is specifically tailored to the life history of the European kestrel, and it reflects the maturation time hypothesis, the idea that a seasonal sex ratio trend has evolved because of sex differences in the dependence of age of first breeding on date of birth. First we show how to derive a fitness function in the context of a seasonal environment. Model parameters are estimated from field data in order to derive quantitative predictions. Since little is known about constraints on sex ratio control in birds, we analyze three scenarios, each corresponding to a different strategy set. We consider a model without constraints on sex ratio control, a model where the sex ratio trend is constrained to be linear, and a mechanistic model incorporating a plausible mechanism of sex ratio control in birds. One of the models yields an ESS sex ratio trend that closely resembles the trend observed in the field. However, the predictions are very sensitive to the choice of strategy set. Moreover, the selective forces generated by sex differences in maturation are rather weak. In fact, the mechanistic model shows that seemingly negligible costs of sex ratio control may be sufficient to overcome the adaptive value of adjusting the sex ratio.
Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)384-397
Aantal pagina's14
TijdschriftAmerican Naturalist
Volume153
Nummer van het tijdschrift4
DOI's
StatusPublished - apr.-1999

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