Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology

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Sex determination in the Lesser Flamingo (Phoenicopterus minor) using morphological measurements

B Childress, D Harper, B Hughes, C Ferris


Morphological measurements and blood samples were taken from 154 Lesser Flamingos Phoenicopterus minor, including adults (>3 years old), immature sub-adults (2–3 years old) and first-year juvenile birds of both sexes, captured at Lake Bogoria, Kenya (0°11'–20' N, 036°06' E) during 2001 and 2002. PCR amplification of the CHD-Z and CHD-W genes using DNA extracted from the blood samples was used to determine the sex of each bird. There were significant differences in mass and tarsus length among the three age groups, indicating that Lesser Flamingos continue to grow in skeletal size and mass between fledging and the attainment of adult plumage at 3–4 years of age. On average, males were significantly larger than females in all age groups, although there was substantial overlap between the sexes in all morphological measurements. The element with the least amount of overlap was head-and-bill length. Discriminant functions utilising head-and-bill length that correctly predict the sex of juvenile and immature birds with approximately 93% accuracy are presented. By adding total tarsus length, the sex of wild adult Lesser Flamingos is correctly predicted with approximately 98% accuracy. The same discriminant function developed for wild adult birds predicted the sex of 19 captive adult Lesser Flamingos of known sex with 100% accuracy.

Ostrich 2005, 76(3&4): 148–153

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