Offspring sex ratio is unrelated to parental quality and time of breeding in a multiple-breeding shorebird

Pinjia Que, Tamás Székely, Pengcheng Wang, Qi Lu, Weipan Lei, Yang Liu, Zhengwang Zhang

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5 Citations (SciVal)


Sex ratio is a fundamental concept in evolutional biology, and theory predicts that parents should invest in sons and daughters according to the fitness returns they expect from them. The fitness returns may depend on the timing of breeding and on parental conditions leading to sex ratios that depend on breeding date and/or parental quality. Here, we investigate the offspring sex ratio in a small shorebird, the Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus, in a large breeding population in Eastern China, and test whether the parents adjust their offspring’s sex in response to hatch date, brood age and their own body condition. Using 1264 chicks from 676 broods that were molecularly sexed, we show that hatchling sex ratio was not significantly different from unity. Hatchling sex ratios were not related to hatch date or to the body condition of parents. In addition, we sexed 138 eggs that were confiscated from illegal egg collectors and found that the mortality of female and male embryos was not significantly different. The latter result is important by suggesting that neither primary sex ratio (i.e., at conception) nor secondary sex ratio (i.e., at hatching) is biased. Taken together, the even offspring sex ratio in Chinese Kentish Plovers is consistent with recent analyses of six plover populations that found even sex ratios at hatching. Future works should investigate whether the even sex ratio persists into adulthood, or it may shift toward more males (or females) due to sex-biased mortalities of juveniles and/or adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-452
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Ornithology
Issue number2
Early online date8 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • Brood age
  • Parental investment
  • Parental size
  • Sex-biased mortality
  • Trivers-Willard hypothesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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