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Equitable Chick Survival in Three Species of the Non-Migratory Shorebird Despite Species-Specific Sexual Dimorphism of the Young

1
Centre for Integrative Ecology, Faculty of Science, Engineering and the Built Environment, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Burwood Campus, Deakin University, Geelong, VIC 3125, Australia
2
Centre for Integrative Ecology, Faculty of Science, Engineering and the Built Environment, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Waurn Ponds Campus, Deakin University, Geelong, VIC 3126, Australia
3
BirdLife Australia, Suite 2-05, The Green Building, 60 Leicester Street, Carlton, VIC 3052, Australia
4
Research Department, Phillip Island Nature Parks, PO Box 97, Cowes, Phillip Island, VIC 3922, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(5), 271; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9050271
Received: 23 March 2019 / Revised: 13 May 2019 / Accepted: 21 May 2019 / Published: 23 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Wildlife)
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Simple Summary

We aimed to determine whether seasonal brood sex-ratio, sex-biased chick survival, and sex specific dimorphism at hatching or during growth occurs among three species of resident Australian shorebird. Our results describe no sex-bias in chick production, survival or growth rates between sexes for any of the three species studied.

Abstract

Sex-biases in populations can have important implications for species’ social biology, population demography and mating systems. It has recently been suggested that in some shorebirds, sex-specific bias in survival of precocial young may occur. This may be driven by variation in the brood sex-ratio and/or the sexual size dimorphism of young birds, which may influence predator escape capacity. Understanding the survival of young birds remains a significant knowledge gap for many taxa, especially when young birds are mobile and cryptic. Our aims were to estimate the sex-ratio variation in three species of Australian resident shorebird, specifically to determine: (1) whether seasonal brood sex-ratio variation at hatching is occurring, (2) the extent of any sex-biased chick survival, (3) if sex specific dimorphism at hatching or during growth occurs; and, (4) whether escape capacity differs between the sexes. We radio-tracked 50 Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles, 42 Red-capped Plover Charadrius ruficapillus and 27 Hooded Plover Thinornis cucullatus chicks from individual broods, examined the likelihood of hatchlings being male or female based on the hatching date within the breeding season, and compared size at hatching, growth and mortality of chicks of different sexes. There was no sex-bias with the hatching date across the breeding season, nor were there differences in survival or growth rates between sexes for any of the three species studied. In one species, male hatchlings had longer tarsi than females, but this did not result in differential escape propensity or improved survival. In conclusion, the hatching date, survival and growth of chicks from three species of resident shorebird was not influenced by their sex. View Full-Text
Keywords: lapwing; plover; precocial; survival; growth; sex-ratio lapwing; plover; precocial; survival; growth; sex-ratio
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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MDPI and ACS Style

Lees, D.; Schmidt, T.; Sherman, C.D.H.; Maguire, G.S.; Dann, P.; Weston, M.A. Equitable Chick Survival in Three Species of the Non-Migratory Shorebird Despite Species-Specific Sexual Dimorphism of the Young. Animals 2019, 9, 271.

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