Offspring sex ratio in relation to parental structural size and body condition in the long-lived wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans)

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Sex ratio theory is one of the most controversial topics in evolutionary ecology. Many deviations from an equal production of males and females are reported in the literature, but few patterns appear to hold across species or populations. There is clearly a need to identify fitness effects of sex ratio variation. We studied this aspect in a population of a long-lived seabird, the wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans), using molecular sex-identification techniques. We report that parental traits affect both (1) fledgling traits in a sex-dependent way and (2) chick sex: Sons are overproduced when likely to be large at fledging and, to a lesser extent, daughters are overproduced when likely to be in good body condition at fledging. Because for the same population, a previous study reported that post-fledging survival was positively affected by size in males and by body condition in females, our results suggest that wandering albatrosses manipulate offspring sex to increase post-fledging survival.

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