Velando, A., Graves, J. & Ortega-Ruano, J. E. Sex ratio in relation to timing of breeding, and laying sequence in a dimorphic seabird. Ibis 144, 9–16 (2002).
When the cost of rearing sons and daughters differs and the subsequent survival and reproductive success of one sex is more dependent than the other, on the amount of parental investment, adult females tend to produce more chicks of the more dependent sex if the females are in good condition themselves. One method of varying the total investment in each sex is through modifying the sex ratio of offspring produced. This study shows that in broods of European Shags Phalacrocorax aristotelis, the sex ratio varied with laying date. Presumably in this species, the lifetime reproductive success of males is more dependent on the level of parental investment. Early breeders are in better condition, the brood sex ratio of early broods was male biased (0.63), while that of late broods was female biased (0.36). The overall difference in sex ratio found between early and late nests could be attributed to manipulation of sex in the first laid egg. In early broods, 77% of the first hatched chicks were male but only 30% of the first hatched chicks in late broods were male. The sex combination of the first two chicks in a brood significantly affected growth as measured by asymptotic mass.