Logging affects fledgling sex ratios and baseline corticosterone in a forest songbird

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Abstract

Silviculture (logging) creates a disturbance to forested environments. The degree to which forests are modified depends on the logging prescription and forest stand characteristics. In this study we compared the effects of two methods of group-selection ("moderate" and "heavy") silviculture (GSS) and undisturbed reference stands on stress and offspring sex ratios of a forest interior species, the Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla), in Algonquin Provincial Park, Canada. Blood samples were taken from nestlings for corticosterone and molecular sexing. We found that logging creates a disturbance that is stressful for nestling Ovenbirds, as illustrated by elevated baseline corticosterone in cut sites. Ovenbirds nesting in undisturbed reference forest produce fewer male offspring per brood (proportion male = 30%) while logging with progressively greater forest disturbance, shifted the offspring sex ratio towards males (proportion male: moderate = 50%, heavy = 70%). If Ovenbirds in undisturbed forests usually produce female-biased broods, then the production of males as a result of logging may disrupt population viability. We recommend a broad examination of nestling sex ratios in response to anthropogenic disturbance to determine the generality of our findings. © 2012 Leshyk et al.

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Leshyk, R., Nol, E., Burke, D. M., & Burness, G. (2012). Logging affects fledgling sex ratios and baseline corticosterone in a forest songbird. PLoS ONE, 7(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0033124

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