Patterns of offspring sex-ratio in a re-establishing population of Black-winged Petrels (Pterodroma nigripennis)

Stefanie M.H. Ismar, Karen Baird, Emily Favell, Mark E. Hauber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Natural re-colonisation events are rare so it can be important to monitor newly establishing populations to understand and characterise such events. As re-colonising populations are often freed from spatial and competitive constraints, documenting the sex-ratio of offspring may provide insights in sex-allocation theory. We studied a re-establishing population of Black-winged Petrels (Pterodroma nigripennis) on Raoul Island, in the Kermadec Group, New Zealand, where all predators have recently been removed. We measured, and took DNA samples from 20 chicks in four new colonies in 2007, when the colonies first re-established, 25 chicks from seven colonies in 2008, and 25 adults captured across both years, including seven that were caught nearby at sea, and two adults caught at a colony where no chicks were sampled. We found the developmental stage of chicks to have no differences between sexes, and recorded no sexual differences in the morphometrics of chicks or adults. We report a significantly biased sex-ratio towards male offspring in the first year of re-colonisation. In contrast, the sex-ratios of offspring in the second year of re-colonisation and of adults in both years were even. We suggest that biases in offspring sex-ratios towards the more philopatric sex may be adaptive when under release from spatial or competitive constraints in re-colonising birds. Continued monitoring of the populations of Black-winged Petrels re-establishing on Raoul Island, as well as comparable data from adjacent islets with long-established breeding colonies of Black-winged Petrels will be critical to identify the realised ecological role of variation in offspring sex-ratio and of sex-biased natal philopatry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-108
Number of pages5
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Kermadec Islands
  • Molecular sexing
  • Monomorphism
  • Offspring bias
  • Sex-ratio theory.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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