Facultative sex allocation theories predict that animals will bias their offspring's sex In response to environmental cues. Biased sex ratios can be a problem when managing small populations in the wild or captivity. Using rainfall and calving records from Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in South Africa, we compared seasonal and annual rainfall with calving rates and sex of the calves. Between 1989–2004,159 calves were sighted soon enough after birth to reliably attribute their conception to a particular season and year. Conceptions were strongly seasonal, with most (73.6%) occurring during rainy seasons and the remainder during dry seasons. Overall progeny sex ratio for the period 1989–2004 was 53.1% male. Mothers were more likely to be observed with male calves if they conceived during the wet season (57.3% male) than during the dry season (42.9% male) in accordance with the Trivers-Willard hypothesis. Similar numbers of conceptions that resulted in calves occurred during wet and dry years (52.2% of conceptions occurred during wet years). Mothers were more likely to raise male calves if they conceived during wet years (60.2% male) than during dry years (46.1% male). Removal of males from small populations might be particularly Important after a sequence of wet years to facilitate greater population growth.
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Vol. 40 • No. 1