Presentation Title

Weather Effects on the Clutch Sex Ratio of Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia)

Format of Presentation

Poster to be presented the Friday of the conference

Abstract

Many are under the impression that female animals are equally likely to produce female and male offspring, and thus have no control over the sex of an individual baby. However, there is evidence suggesting that females of many avian species can determine the sex ratio of their clutches. The sex allocation theory states that females should bias the sex of their offspring, responding to the differences in the male and females reproductive value.

This study looks at sex-determination in the western burrowing owl (Athene cuniculara hypugaea) specifically with respect to the sensitivity hypothesis, in relation to changes in temperatures. The sensitivity hypothesis reasons that in unfavourable conditions, the female will be more likely to produce the less expensive, or sensitive, sex - such as during colder times of the year, when food resources decrease as many prey species go into hibernation or decrease in quality. Data for a six-year period was collated and the average clutch sex ratio examined to see it was correlated with the mean temperature of each month during the nesting season (March-April) of the burrowing owls in Kamloops, BC.

This study was done with the cooperation of the BC Wildlife Park and their burrowing owl captive breeding program.

Department

Biological Sciences

Faculty Advisor

Nancy Flood

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Weather Effects on the Clutch Sex Ratio of Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia)

Many are under the impression that female animals are equally likely to produce female and male offspring, and thus have no control over the sex of an individual baby. However, there is evidence suggesting that females of many avian species can determine the sex ratio of their clutches. The sex allocation theory states that females should bias the sex of their offspring, responding to the differences in the male and females reproductive value.

This study looks at sex-determination in the western burrowing owl (Athene cuniculara hypugaea) specifically with respect to the sensitivity hypothesis, in relation to changes in temperatures. The sensitivity hypothesis reasons that in unfavourable conditions, the female will be more likely to produce the less expensive, or sensitive, sex - such as during colder times of the year, when food resources decrease as many prey species go into hibernation or decrease in quality. Data for a six-year period was collated and the average clutch sex ratio examined to see it was correlated with the mean temperature of each month during the nesting season (March-April) of the burrowing owls in Kamloops, BC.

This study was done with the cooperation of the BC Wildlife Park and their burrowing owl captive breeding program.