Existing theories do not explain sex ratio variation at birth in monomorphic roe deer (Capreolus capreolus)

S.J. Vreugdenhil, L. van Breukelen, S.E. van Wieren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The phenomenon of skewed sex ratios at birth has been reported in many ungulate species. So far, no consistent trend has emerged for roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), because male-biased, female-biased and equal sex ratios at birth have all been found. Nevertheless, both the Trivers-Willard hypothesis and the theory of local resource competition have gained support. Despite the great number of studies carried out regarding the ecology of roe deer, too many aspects remain unclear, and contradictory results have been produced with respect to several crucial elements. Without further research, the discussion on which theory applies will therefore remain inconclusive. We put forward the argument that eventually the theories of Trivers-Willard and local resource competition can be considered as being not essentially different. After all, both theories explain the observed skewed sex ratios as being due to the effect of the progeny's sex on the mother's body condition and hence her reproductive success in subsequent years. Furthermore, neither theory is likely to prove to be suitable for roe deer, as several assumptions are unlikely to be met. In roe deer, skewed ratios probably only have a temporal character. As a matter of fact, several observations of skewed sex ratios in birds and mammals did not withstand the accumulation of further data, as sex ratios that were initially believed to be biased turned out to be equal in the long term. This is likely to be the case in roe deer as well. We hypothesize that roe deer, as r-strategists, will produce as many offspring as possible, regardless of sex.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-18
JournalIntegrative Zoology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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