Birds bias offspring sex ratio in response to livestock grazing

Gina L Prior, Darren M Evans, Stephen Redpath, Simon J Thirgood, Pat Monaghan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Livestock grazing, which has a large influence on habitat structure, is associated with the widespread decline of various bird species across the world, yet there are few experimental studies that investigate how grazing pressure influences avian reproduction. We manipulated grazing pressure using a replicated field experiment, and found that the offspring sex ratio of a common upland passerine, the meadow pipit Anthus pratensis, varied significantly between grazing treatments. The proportion of sons was lowest in the ungrazed and intensively grazed treatments and highest in treatments grazed at low intensity (by sheep, or a mixture of sheep and cattle). This response was not related to maternal body condition. These results demonstrate the sensitivity of avian reproductive biology to variation in local conditions, and support growing evidence that too much grazing, or the complete removal of livestock from upland areas, is detrimental for common breeding birds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)958-960
Number of pages3
JournalBiology Letters
Volume7
Issue number6
Early online date11 May 2011
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2011

Fingerprint

Sex Ratio
Livestock
Birds
sex ratio
livestock
grazing
birds
Sheep
Pressure
highlands
Breeding
Reproduction
Ecosystem
Therapeutics
sheep
Mothers
body condition
Biological Sciences
cattle
breeding

Keywords

  • meadow pipit
  • uplands
  • cattle
  • sheep
  • molecular sexing
  • insectivorous passerine
  • size
  • conservation
  • populations
  • Scotland
  • Britain

Cite this

Prior, G. L., Evans, D. M., Redpath, S., Thirgood, S. J., & Monaghan, P. (2011). Birds bias offspring sex ratio in response to livestock grazing. Biology Letters, 7(6), 958-960. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2011.0264

Birds bias offspring sex ratio in response to livestock grazing. / Prior, Gina L; Evans, Darren M; Redpath, Stephen; Thirgood, Simon J; Monaghan, Pat.

In: Biology Letters, Vol. 7, No. 6, 23.12.2011, p. 958-960.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Prior, GL, Evans, DM, Redpath, S, Thirgood, SJ & Monaghan, P 2011, 'Birds bias offspring sex ratio in response to livestock grazing', Biology Letters, vol. 7, no. 6, pp. 958-960. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2011.0264
Prior, Gina L ; Evans, Darren M ; Redpath, Stephen ; Thirgood, Simon J ; Monaghan, Pat. / Birds bias offspring sex ratio in response to livestock grazing. In: Biology Letters. 2011 ; Vol. 7, No. 6. pp. 958-960.
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