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1 December 2019 Sexing a Monomorphic Plumage Seabird Using Morphometrics and Assortative Mating
Yannick Seyer, Gilles Gauthier, Louis Bernatchez, Jean-François Therrien
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Abstract

This study aimed to establish a reliable method based on morphometrics to sex Long-tailed Jaeger (Stercorarius longicaudus), a species with slight differences in body size between sexes but no plumage differences. The presence of assortative mating based on size was also examined to determine if within-pair differences in size could improve sexing. Seventy-six Long-tailed Jaegers were measured, including 26 breeding pairs, on Bylot Island (Nunavut, Canada) during summers 2014-2018. Bird weight, wing chord, tarsus, head, and tail feathers were measured, and breast feathers were collected to determine sex with DNA extracts. A first discriminant function based on two variables (body mass and wing chord) accurately sexed 83% of birds. Some evidence for positive assortative mating based on size was found, as body mass of pair members was positively related, and 88% of females were heavier than their partner. A second discriminant function that included body mass, wing chord, length of the central tail feather, and partner's body mass accurately sexed 92% of birds. Adding a new morphometric and information from the partner allowed a reduction in sex misclassification by half (17% vs. 8%). In conclusion, external body measurements are useful to sex Long-tailed Jaegers, a slightly dimorphic species, and measurements of both members of a pair considerably improve the accuracy of sexing, likely due to the presence of assortative mating.

Yannick Seyer, Gilles Gauthier, Louis Bernatchez, and Jean-François Therrien "Sexing a Monomorphic Plumage Seabird Using Morphometrics and Assortative Mating," Waterbirds 42(4), 380-392, (1 December 2019). https://doi.org/10.1675/063.042.0403
Received: 27 March 2019; Accepted: 13 August 2019; Published: 1 December 2019
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