Biased adult sex ratios in Western Europe populations of Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax as a potential warning signal of unbalanced mortalities

Eva Serrano-Davies* (Corresponding author), Juan Traba, Beatriz Arroyo, François Mougeot, Francesc Cuscó, Santi Mañosa, Gerard Bota, Nuno Faria, Alexandre Villers, Fabián Casas, Carole Attie, Pierrick Devoucoux, Vincent Bretagnolle, Manuel B. Morales

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Adult sex ratios (ASRs) have proved to correlate with population trends, which make them potential useful indicators of a species’ population trajectory and conservation status. We analysed ASRs and proportion of juveniles in flocks of an endangered steppe bird, the Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax, using surveys made during the non-breeding period in seven areas within its Western European range (one in Portugal, four in Spain, and two in France). We found overall male-biased ASRs, as all the seven surveyed areas showed a male-biased ASR mean value. Five areas were below the threshold median value (female sex ratio = 0.4) considered to be consistent with an increased probability of extinction, according to earlier population viability analyses for the species. We also found a significant positive correlation between female ratio and the proportion of young individuals in the non-breeding flocks surveyed. Our results (strongly male-biased ASRs) support the hypothesis that the viability of Little Bustard populations in Western Europe is threatened by an excess of female mortality, something that should be quantified in the future, and emphasise the value of monitoring sex ratio as a population viability indicator in species where monitoring survival is difficult to achieve.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere40
Number of pages8
JournalBird Conservation International
Volume33
Early online date2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • Conservation
  • Endangered species
  • Female mortality
  • Steppe birds
  • Western Europe

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