Female body condition and brood sex ratio in yellow-legged gulls Larus cachinnans

Alonso-Alvarez, C. & Velando, A. Female body condition and brood sex ratio in yellow-legged gulls Larus cachinnans. Ibis 145, 220–226 (2003).


In the Yellow-legged Gull (Larus cachinnans), males are the larger sex, and show more reproductive variance than females. We predicted that the proportion of male chicks in a brood should increase with female body condition. We investigated brood sex ratio by using DNA markers taken from samples of hatchlings or dead embryos, and female body condition using plasma cholesterol concentration as a reliable indicator. The brood sex ratio of females in good condition was male biased and the sex ratio of females in poor condition was female biased. This relationship was also significant in those nests where all the eggs laid were sexed. Thus, manipulation of embryo mortality cannot explain the biases reported in this study, suggesting that the sex ratio of the eggs was biased prior to laying. These results confirm that sex-ratio manipulation in gulls operates under natural conditions, and supports earlier experimental findings.

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