Mating patterns and reversed size dimorphism in southern skuas (Stercorarius skua lonnbergi)
Numerous explanations exist for the evolution of reversed size dimorphism in raptorial species. A recent study concluded that reversed size dimorphism in skuas and jaegers was probably not attributable to breeding-role specialization, but that there was evidence for sexual selection, and in particular intrasexual competition by females for males. Our study tested the applicability of those conclusions for Southern (or Brown) Skuas (Stercorarius skua lonnbergi) breeding in South Georgia. Clutch volume was related positively to size and condition of females and negatively to condition of males, but there was no evidence of assortative mating for size or condition within pairs. Potential explanations for the discrepancy between this and previous studies are that size is less closely correlated with individual quality because of highly diverse foraging strategies, territory quality is a confounding factor, or because lower aggression in Southern Skuas reduces the necessity for small females to avoid large males.
Authors: Phillips, Richard A., Dawson, Deborah A., Ross, Douglas J.