Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Brood sex ratio varies with diet composition in a generalist raptor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

While sex allocation has been investigated productively at both population and family levels, as yet no general theory has been developed that is capable of linking processes at these two ecological scales, and very few empirical studies have examined cross-scale patterns. In Finnish northern goshawks (Accipiter gentilis), nestling sex ratio of local subpopulations is related to the spatial and temporal variation in the abundance of their principal avian prey, woodland grouse. Using data from an urban breeding population in Hamburg, Germany, I investigated: (1) whether brood sex ratio of goshawks varies with diet composition at the family level; (2) whether such variation could reflect adaptive adjustment; and (3) how family-level allocation can drive population-level patterns, such as those observed in Finland. Feral pigeons (Columba livia) were the most important prey species, with a pooled contribution to total diet of 36%. Brood sex ratio varied significantly with the proportion of pigeons in the breeding-season diet of pairs (increasing male bias). However, there was no evidence for sex-differential effects of diet composition, so it remains unclear whether the observed sex-ratio variation was an adaptive response. As all study pairs inhabited an (urban) environment where pigeons were unusually abundant, family-level sex-ratio adjustment caused a marked male bias in offspring sex ratio at the population level (male-biased nestling sex ratio in four of five years; pooled data: 60% males). This suggests that the large-scale variation observed in Finnish goshawk populations mirrors sex-ratio adjustment shown by individual families in response to small-scale environmental conditions. Apart from linking patterns empirically across ecological scales, this study is, to my knowledge, the first to demonstrate that family-level brood sex ratio varies with realized resource use (diet composition) in a raptor species. Previous studies either failed to find significant associations or, more commonly, violated theoretical assumptions by measuring environmental prey abundance (often integrated over large areas) rather than realized prey use of individual breeding pairs. I conducted a meta-analysis of offspring sex-ratio data from 17 goshawk populations across Europe to put my results into perspective. (c) 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, 105, 937951.

Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)937-951
Number of pages15
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Volume105
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Raptor research during the COVID-19 pandemic provides invaluable opportunities for conservation biology

    Sumasgutner, P., Buij, R., McClure, C. J. W., Shaw, P., Dykstra, C. R., Kumar, N. & Rutz, C., 28 Apr 2021, In: Biological Conservation. 109149.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. A deepening understanding of animal culture suggests lessons for conservation

    Brakes, P., Carroll, E. L., Dall, S., Keith, S., McGregor, P., Mesnick, S., Noad, M., Rendell, L., Robbins, M., Rutz, C., Thorton, A., Whiten, A., Whiting, M., Aplin, L., Bearhop, S., Ciucci, P., Fishlock, V., Ford, J., Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Simmonds, M. & 5 others, Spina, F., Wade, P., Whithead, H., Williams, J. & Garland, E. C., 28 Apr 2021, In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 288, 1949, 10 p., 20202718.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

  3. A standardisation framework for bio-logging data to advance ecological research and conservation

    Sequeira, A. M. M., O’Toole, M., Keates, T. R., McDonnell, L. H., Braun, C. D., Hoenner, X., Jaine, F. R. A., Jonsen, I. D., Newman, P., Pye, J., Bograd, S. J., Hays, G. C., Hazen, E. L., Holland, M., Tsontos, V., Blight, C., Cagnacci, F., Davidson, S. C., Dettki, H., Duarte, C. M. & 22 others, Dunn, D. C., Eguíluz, V. M., Fedak, M., Gleiss, A. C., Hammerschlag, N., Hindell, M. A., Holland, K., Janekovic, I., McKinzie, M. K., Muelbert, M. M. C., Pattiaratchi, C., Rutz, C., Sims, D. W., Simmons, S. E., Townsend, B., Whoriskey, F., Woodward, B., Costa, D. P., Heupel, M. R., McMahon, C. R., Harcourt, R. & Weise, M., 1 Apr 2021, In: Methods in Ecology and Evolution. Early View

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. A genome-wide investigation of adaptive signatures in protein-coding genes related to tool behaviour in New Caledonian and Hawaiian crows

    Dussex, N., Kutschera, V. E., Wiberg, R. A. W., Parker, D. J., Hunt, G. R., Gray, R. D., Rutherford, K., Abe, H., Fleischer, R. C., Ritchie, M. G., Rutz, C., B.Wolf, J. & Gemmell, N. J., Feb 2021, In: Molecular Ecology. 30, 4, p. 973-986

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  5. Ethology adopts the STRANGE framework for animal behaviour research, to improve reporting standards

    Rutz, C. & Webster, M. M., Feb 2021, In: Ethology. 127, 2, p. 99-101

    Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

Related by journal

  1. Divergence and reproductive isolation between two closely related allopatric Iris species

    Volis, S., Zhang, Y-H., Deng, T., Dorman, M., Blecher, M. & Abbott, R. J., Jun 2019, In: Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 127, 2, p. 377-389 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Energetic costs in the coevolutionary relationship between bitterling fish and freshwater mussels

    Methling, C., Douda, K., Liu, H., Rouchet, R., Bartáková, V., Yu, D., Smith, C. & Reichard, M., 7 Nov 2018, In: Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. Advance Articles

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. What is known and what is not yet known about deflection of the point of a predator's attack

    Humphreys, R. K. & Ruxton, G. D., 2 Mar 2018, In: Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 123, 3, p. 483-495 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

  4. Nonreceding hare lines: genetic continuity since the Late Pleistocene in European mountain hares (Lepus timidus)

    Smith, S., Sandoval-Castellanos, E., Lagerholm, V. K., Napierala, H., Sablin, M., Von Seth, J., Fladerer, F. A., Germonpré, M., Wojtal, P., Miller, R., Stewart, J. R. & Dalén, L., 1 Apr 2017, In: Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 120, 4, p. 891-908

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  5. Strong between-site variation in New Caledonian crows' use of hook-tool-making materials

    St Clair, J., Klump, B. C., van der Wal, J. E. M., Sugasawa, S. & Rutz, C., Jun 2016, In: Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 118, 2, p. 226-232 7 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

ID: 23996867

Top