Sex-specific costs of hatching last: an experimental study on herring gulls (Larus argentatus)

Bogdanova, M.I. and Nager, R.G. (2008) Sex-specific costs of hatching last: an experimental study on herring gulls (Larus argentatus). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 62(10), pp. 1533-1541. (doi: 10.1007/s00265-008-0582-8)

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An organism's pattern of development can have important long-term fitness effects. In species where the sexes differ in size or other phenotypic traits, they may also have different optimal developmental rates. This influences both parental sex allocation strategies and susceptibility of the sexes to early developmental conditions. However, sex differences in developmental rate and vulnerability to environment during the embryonic period are not well understood. In birds, sibling competition and hatching asynchrony may select for accelerated embryonic development of the last offspring in order to reduce their competitive disadvantage after hatching. They may advance their hatching in response to vocal stimuli by the older siblings. It is, however, unclear whether this flexibility in developmental rates is sex specific. In this study, we experimentally manipulated between-embryo contact and tested whether this affected the pre-natal developmental rate and post-hatching performance of male and female offspring from last-laid eggs in the herring gull. Post-hatching performance was measured both in competitive and non-competitive situations. Among young incubated in isolation, males hatched faster than females, but both sexes fledged in similar, relatively good condition. Among young incubated with normal between-embryo contact, hatching time did not differ between sexes, but males fledged in poorer condition than females, regardless of whether they were reared singly or in a brood. These results suggest that male and female offspring differ in their ability to mitigate the costs of hatching asynchrony

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bogdanova, Dr Maria and Nager, Dr Ruedi
Authors: Bogdanova, M.I., and Nager, R.G.
Subjects:Q Science > QL Zoology
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Life Sciences
Journal Name:Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
ISSN (Online):1432-0762
Published Online:15 April 2008

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