Primary sex ratio bias in an endangered cooperatively breeding bird, the black-eared miner, and its implications for conservation

John G. Ewen, Rohan H. Clarke, Emma Moysey, Rebecca L. Boulton, Ross H. Crozier, Michael F. Clarke

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The aim of our study was to investigate primary and adult sex ratios in the cooperatively breeding black-eared miner, Manorina melanotis. We used genetic methods to determine the sex of all birds. Observations were made to quantify differences in helping behaviour between the sexes. As in other miners, Manorina spp., non-breeding males provided most of the help in raising young. Male and female nestlings did not differ significantly in weight, suggesting that both sexes are equally costly to produce. Like other miners, the adult sex ratio in black-eared miners is male-biased (64.4%). However, unlike its congeners, the black-eared miner's primary sex ratio was strongly biased toward females (62.5%). This suggests that females suffer higher juvenile mortality than males. Our study illustrates how understanding sex ratios is both of theoretical interest and relevant to biological conservation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-145
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Conservation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Black-eared miner
  • Conservation
  • Cooperative breeding
  • Sex ratio

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