, Volume 149, Issue 4, pp 521-527
Date: 05 Apr 2008

Offspring sex ratio in the sequentially polygamous Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus

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Abstract

Despite the growing literature on facultative sex-ratio adjustment in chromosomal sex-determining vertebrate taxa (birds, mammals), the consistency of results is often low between studies and species. Here, we investigate the primary and secondary offspring sex ratio of a small passerine bird, the Eurasian Penduline Tit (Remiz pendulinus) in three consecutive years. This species has a uniquely diverse breeding system, in which the male (and/or the female) abandons the nest during egg-laying, and starts a new breeding attempt. This allowed us to test (1) whether patterns of parental care, i.e., male-only care, female-only care or biparental desertion, influence offspring sex ratio, and (2) whether the offspring sex ratio is repeatable between successive clutches of males and females. Using molecular markers to sex 497 offspring in 176 broods, we show that (1) offspring sex ratio does not depend on which parent provides care, and (2) the offspring sex ratio is not repeatable between clutches of a given individual. The overall primary and secondary offspring sex ratio at a population level is not different from parity (54 ± 6% males, and 50 ± 3% (mean ± SE), respectively). We suggest that ecological and phenotypic factors, rather than individual traits of parents, may influence offspring’s sex, and conclude that there is currently no evidence for a facultative adjustment of offspring sex ratio in the Penduline Tit.

Communicated by T. Friedl.