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Estimating adult sex ratios from bird mist netting data
Article first published online: 25 APR 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Methods in Ecology and Evolution © 2012 British Ecological Society
Methods in Ecology and Evolution
Volume 3, Issue 4, pages 713–720, August 2012
How to Cite
Amrhein, V., Scaar, B., Baumann, M., Minéry, N., Binnert, J.-P. and Korner-Nievergelt, F. (2012), Estimating adult sex ratios from bird mist netting data. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 3: 713–720. doi: 10.1111/j.2041-210X.2012.00207.x
- Issue published online: 30 JUL 2012
- Article first published online: 25 APR 2012
- Received 9 December 2011; accepted 12 March 2012 Handling Editor: Robert Freckleton
- Adult sex ratio;
- Bayesian analysis;
- capture probability;
1. It is increasingly acknowledged that skewed adult sex ratios (ASRs) may play an important role in ecology, evolution and conservation of animals.
2. In birds, published estimates on ASRs mostly rely on mist netting data. However, previous studies suggested that mist nets or other trap types provide biased estimates on sex ratios, with males being more susceptible to capture than females.
3. We used data from a Constant Effort Site ringing scheme to show how sex ratios that are corrected for sex- and year-specific capture probabilities can be directly estimated by applying capture–recapture analysis, for example, in a Bayesian framework.
4. When capture data were pooled from the 19 years of study, we found that in the blackbird (Turdus merula) and the blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla), the observed proportions of males were 57% and 55%, respectively. However, when the observed annual proportions of males were corrected for the sex-specific capture probabilities, the proportions of males did not clearly differ from 50% in most study years, and thus, the apparent male-bias in the ASRs almost completely disappeared.
5. We propose that published estimates on ASRs in birds should be re-evaluated if based solely on observed sex ratios from mist netting studies.
6. We further propose that data from national bird ringing schemes and in particular from Constant Effort Site ringing programs can provide valuable information on ASRs, if analysed using capture–recapture models. We discuss important assumptions of those models; for example, movements that may differ between sexes should be taken into account, as well as the occurrence of transient individuals that do not hold breeding territories within a study site.