U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Geographic segregation and evidence of density-dependent changes in sex ratios in an abundant colonial waterbird
Date of this Version
Integrative Zoology 2014; 9: 570–582 doi: 10.1111/1749-4877.12091
Demographic information, such as geographic segregation of sexes and sex ratio data, is needed to develop, model and evaluate conservation and management strategies for wildlife. A variety of physiological, behavioral and environmental factors can influence segregation of sexes and sex ratios, many of which originate with density- dependent processes. Departure from 50:50 sex ratios of double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) collected during control efforts in breeding and wintering areas across their eastern range of the USA were evaluated using using a Z-test as well as Stouffer’s weighted Z-tests. In addition, a specifically-designed randomization test was used to evaluate density-dependent effects on primary sex ratios in cormorants from egg collections and colony nest count data over a 21-year period. Cormorants collected from breeding colonies were strongly male-biased, whereas cormorants collected from feeding flocks were slightly biased toward females. Cormorants were partly segregated by sex on the wintering grounds, with significantly more males found in areas with intensive channel catfish aquaculture. The null hypothesis that females produced a balanced sex ratio independent of number of nesting cormorants was rejected: more male embryos were produced during rapid population growth, whereas at maximum nesting number more female embryos were produced. Once populations stabilized, the sex ratio was more equal. This examination of sex ratios indicates that different management methods and locations result in sex-biased culling of cormorants. Sex-biased culling in cormorants could make population reduction efforts more efficient and reduce overall take. We suggest further research to examine density-dependent effects on primary sex ratios documented here.
U.S. government work.