Adaptive seasonal trend in brood sex ratio: test in two sisterspecies with contrasting breeding systems

Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) Science Article 1


Evolutionary theory predicts adaptive adjustment in offspring sex ratio by females. Seasonal change in sex ratio is one possibility, tested here in two sister species, the Common sandpiper and the Spotted sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos and A. macularia. In the monogamous Common sandpiper, males are the most competitive sex. In each of 3 years, there was a change from mainly sons in early clutches to mainly daughters in late clutches. This seasonal adjustment of clutch sex ratio took place within the female before the eggs were laid, not by differential egg or chick survival. The sex of all eggs laid in the clutches used here was determined molecularly from chick blood taken at the time of hatching. The Spotted sandpiper in contrast is polyandrous, with partly reversed sex roles. There was no seasonal trend from sons to daughters in thisspecies. When tested together, the two species differed significantly as predicted by the hypothesis of adaptive sex ratio adjustment by females.

M. Andersson, J. Wallander, L. Oring,E. Akst,J.M. Reed & R.C. Fleischer, J . EVOL. B IOL. 16 (2003 ) 510-515

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