Periódicos Brasileiros em Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia

Sex-dependent foraging effort and vigilance in coal-crested finches, Charitospiza eucosma (Aves: Emberizidae) during the breeding season: evidence of female-biased predation?

Diniz, Pedro

Sexual dimorphism in birds is often attributed to sexual selection, but another interpretation suggests the evolution of this phenomenon by natural selection. Predation may be an important selective pressure, acting mainly on females. In this study, I tested the latter hypothesis on the coal-crested finch (Charitospiza eucosma Oberholser, 1905) in a neotropical savanna of the Central Brazil (Cerrado). I used capture methods for ascertaining the sex ratio in the population, and focal observations to gather behavioral data. My results show that the sex ratio is skewed toward males (1:1.39). Males were more vigilant, vocalized for longer periods of time, and used higher perches than females. Females foraged more, spent more time on parental care and remained on the ground for longer periods than males. These results support the 'foraging effort hypothesis, suggesting that females are more preyed upon because they spend more time foraging. Ultimately, this may reflect the fact that females invest more on parental care than males. The sex-dependent parental investment may favor the evolution of different antipredator strategies in males and females: the camouflage in females as a less efficient strategy than vigilance in males.

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