Variation in the magnitude of sexual size dimorphism in nestling Coal Tits (Periparus ater)

Dietrich-Bischoff, V. and Schmoll, T. and Winkel, W. and Lubjuhn, T. (2008) Variation in the magnitude of sexual size dimorphism in nestling Coal Tits (Periparus ater). Journal of Ornithology, 149 (4). pp. 565-577.

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The magnitude of sexual size dimorphism can be affected by sex differences in environmental sensitivity early in ontogeny that result in differential growth rates of male and female nestlings. Here, the larger sex might either be more sensitive because of higher food demands or less sensitive due to greater competitive ability. When environmental conditions deteriorate during the breeding season, this "environmental stress" hypothesis predicts differential seasonal declines in the performance of male and female offspring. Based on a sample of molecularly sexed Coal Tit (Periparus ater) nestlings from 2 years, we investigated sexual size dimorphism in body mass, condition (i.e. size-corrected mass), tarsus and wing length and whether its magnitude changed from early to late broods. Male offspring were heavier, larger (in terms of tarsus and wing length) and had higher size-corrected mass than their female nest mates (the same was evident in adult breeders). In 2002 (the year with the longer effective breeding season), body mass and condition declined with progressing hatching date and this effect was significantly more pronounced in male than in female nestlings. There was also a seasonal decline in male wing length, while female wing length remained relatively constant, which resulted in males having shorter wings than females in late broods. Tarsus length was unaffected by time of breeding, except that the difference between males and females was relatively smaller in late (i.e. second) broods in 2002. While these results are in accordance with the idea of an increased environmental sensitivity of the larger males, confounding effects of sex-differential hatching order cannot be ruled out. © Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2008.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: 04 - Palaeobiology
Divisions: 04 - Palaeobiology
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Ornithology
Volume: 149
Page Range: pp. 565-577
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 08 Apr 2011 14:06
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2013 10:00

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