Adult sex ratio and operational sex ratio exhibit different temporal dynamics in the wild

Mariá Cristina Carmona-Isunza, Sergio Ancona, Tamás Székely, Alfonso P. Ramallo-González, Medardo Cruz-López, Martín Alejandro Serrano-Meneses, Clemens Küpper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (SciVal)


Adult sex ratio (ASR, the proportion of adult males in the adult population) and operational sex ratio (OSR, the proportion of sexually active males in the mating pool) are fundamental properties of breeding populations and they are often linked to mating systems and sexual selection. However, ASR and OSR emerge via different routes in a population and may exhibit different temporal patterns. Here, we use data from a well-monitored polygamous snowy plover Charadrius nivosus population sampled over 3 consecutive breeding seasons to investigate whether temporal changes in ASR relate to changes in OSR. We found that snowy plovers exhibited malebiased ASR and OSR. Consistent with theoretical expectations, OSR was more variable than ASR. However, there was no consistent relationship between OSR and ASR: In only 1 of the 3 study years we found a weak positive relationship (r = 0.22). The lack of association was corroborated by time series analyses and sensitivity tests. Our work therefore suggests that ASR and OSR exhibit different temporal patterns in a polygamous population, and we call for further theoretical and empirical studies that analyze their relationship across a range of different breeding systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-532
Number of pages10
JournalBehavioral Ecology
Issue number2
Early online date2 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • Adult sex ratio
  • Mating system
  • Operational sex ratio
  • Social environment
  • Temporal variation
  • Within-season variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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