A1 Journal article – refereed
Ural owl sex allocation and parental investment under poor food conditions

List of Authors: Brommer JE, Karell P, Pihlaja T, Painter JN, Primmer CR, Pietiainen H
Publication year: 2003
Journal: Oecologia
Journal name in source: OECOLOGIA
Journal acronym: OECOLOGIA
Volume number: 137
Issue number: 1
ISSN: 0029-8549

Parents are expected to overproduce the less costly sex under poor food conditions. The previously regular 3-year cycle in the abundance of voles, the main prey of the Ural owl, Strix uralensis, temporarily disappeared in 1999-2001. We studied Ural owls' parental feeding investment and sex allocation during these poor-quality years. We sexed hatchlings and embryos in unhatched eggs of all 131 broods produced during these years. Population wide, the owls produced significantly more males (56%). The parental food investment in the brood was estimated by sorting out the prey remains in the bottom of nest boxes. Food delivered to 83 broods without chick mortality showed no clear sex-specific investment. Nestling mortality was equal in both sexes. Thus, evidence for an investment-driven sex allocation is weak. Neither laying date, brood size nor the female's condition correlated with offspring sex ratios. In these poor years, parents provided less food per chick and the fledging weight of daughters was reduced more than the weight of sons compared with years of high food abundance (1983 and 1986). We discuss, in relation to published studies, the possibility of a sex-allocation scenario where, under poor food conditions, a daughter's long-term fitness is reduced more than a son's.

Last updated on 2019-20-07 at 14:13