Volume 13 Issue 1
Mar.  2022
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Sook-Young Cho, Hyun-Young Nam, Se-Young Park, Chang-Yong Choi. 2022: Sexual dimorphism and sex-differential migration of Little Buntings (Emberiza pusilla) at an East Asian stopover site. Avian Research, 13(1): 100014. doi: 10.1016/j.avrs.2022.100014
Citation: Sook-Young Cho, Hyun-Young Nam, Se-Young Park, Chang-Yong Choi. 2022: Sexual dimorphism and sex-differential migration of Little Buntings (Emberiza pusilla) at an East Asian stopover site. Avian Research, 13(1): 100014. doi: 10.1016/j.avrs.2022.100014

Sexual dimorphism and sex-differential migration of Little Buntings (Emberiza pusilla) at an East Asian stopover site

doi: 10.1016/j.avrs.2022.100014
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  • Corresponding author: E-mail address: sub95@snu.ac.kr (C. Choi)
  • Received Date: 09 Nov 2021
  • Accepted Date: 21 Feb 2022
  • Publish Date: 02 Mar 2022
  • Sex differences in morphology provide key information for understanding a species' morphological adaptations in relation to the evolution of sexual selection. In migratory birds, morphological traits have adapted to long-distance travel, and sexual dimorphism is typically related to sex-differential migration phenology. Little Buntings (Emberiza pusilla) have one of the longest migrations and are the least dichromatic species among the Emberiza buntings. In this study, we measured sexual size dimorphism and sexual dichromatism of Little Buntings in relation to the spring arrival dates at a stopover site in Korea. Wing length was the most important predictor for identifying sex; the wings of males were longer than those of females. Males also had a significantly stronger chestnut color of the head feathers than females, but this color difference was more prominent in the spring than in the fall. Males arrived earlier than females by four days. Arrival dates correlated with both size and color, but unlike other bunting species previously studied in the same area, there was no clear sex-differential trend in the relationship between arrival date and morphological characteristics. Seasonal differences in the degree of sexual dichromatism suggest that chestnut plumage coloration can be used as a social or sexual signal of males in the breeding season. The correlation of size and color to early arrival regardless of sex may indicate that a preference for assortative mating exists or that a sex-differential migration strategy is not clearly defined in the early stages of northward migration. Our findings on the sexual dimorphism of Little Buntings provide insight into the evolution of the sex-differential migration of buntings in the East Asian Flyway.


  • 1 These authors contributed equally to this work.
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