Sex-specific differences in body condition indices and seasonal mass loss in Tufted Puffins

Cory T. Williams, S. Dean Kildaw, C. Loren Buck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Reduced prey availability can affect the growth and survival of nestling seabirds. However, few studies have demonstrated similar effects on indices of adult body condition. We examined body condition and seasonal mass loss of breeding adult male and female Tufted Puffins (Fratercula cirrhata) at Chiniak Bay, Kodiak Island, Alaska, in 2004-2005. We determined sex using genetic analysis, developed a discriminant function to determine sex using morphometric measurements, and examined the body condition of adult males and females relative to the growth rates of their offspring. We found that morphological measurements were only moderately useful for sexing Tufted Puffins, with 74% of adults (N = 176) correctly classified. We also found that the relationship between adult body mass and size differed between sexes and conclude that body condition indices must be calculated separately for each sex to avoid inter- and intrasexual bias. Body condition of male and female Tufted Puffins declined during the chick-rearing period. However, body condition of females did not differ between years, whereas male condition declined to a greater degree during 2004 when the mass of young at fledging was significantly lower. Although these results suggest that adult male Tufted Puffins sacrifice their own body condition in years of diminished nestling growth and females do not, reasons for this apparent intersexual difference in reproductive strategies remain unclear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-378
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Field Ornithology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcidae
  • Body condition
  • Cost of reproduction
  • Fledging mass
  • Fratercula cirrhata
  • Parental care
  • Seabird
  • Sexual dimorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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