Sex identification comparison of barn owls (Tyto alba javanica) using morphological features and molecular-based methods

Open access

Abstract

Sexing of barn owls, Tyto alba javanica, using morphological traits has not been accurate enough due to ambiguous sexual dimorphism between sexes. This has been one of the major problems for the management of barn owls worldwide, especially for translocation and captive-breeding programs. In order to increase the success rate of sexing the barn owl, we compared the results of a molecular sexing method to six morphological traits for sexing the owls: the shape and colour of the facial disc, the colour of the throat area, the tail plumage, the colour of their tarsus, the back plumage, and the frequency of spotting on the chest and underside of the wings. The result of our comparison showed that sex identification using morphological traits had an accuracy of only 72.7%. Three of our samples were identified as females using morphological traits, but molecular sexing determined that these samples were males. We also used our results to determine the best morphological traits for sexing barn owls, and concluded that the best traits for morphological sexing are the frequency of spotting on the chest and underparts of barn owls (accuracy of 81.8%), as well as colour of the owls’ facial disc and throat area (accuracy of 63.6%).

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Archawaranon M 1988: Control of aggression and dominance in white-throated sparrows by testosterone and its metabolites. Hormones and Behavior 22: 497–517.

  • Archawaranon M 2004: Rapid sexing hill mynah Gracula religiosa by sex chromosomes. Biotechnology 3: 160–164.

  • Colvin BA 1984: Barn owl foraging behaviour and secondary poisoning hazard from rodenticide use on farm. PhD Thesis. University of Bowling Green Ohio.

  • de Jong J 2011: Een nieuwe methode voor het seksen van Kerkuilen [New method of barn owl sexing]. Uilen 2: 24–31. [In Dutch with English abstract].

  • Dubiec A & Zagalska-Neubauer M 2006: Molecular techniques for sex identification in birds. Biology Letters 43: 3–12.

  • Elliot LR 1978: Sex determination of birds. Iowa State University Veterinarian 40: 100–103.

  • Fridolfsson A-K & Ellegren H 1999: A Simple and universal method for molecular sexing of non-ratite birds. Journal ofAvian Biology 30: 116–121.

  • Garcia CB Insausti JA Gil JA & de Frutos A 2009: Comparison of different procedures of DNA analysis for sex identification in the endangered bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus). European Journal of Wildlife Research 55: 309–312.

  • Hamid NH Abidin MRZ Ismail ST Wahab MAA & Nor HM 2010: Identification of male and female barn owl (Tyto alba javanica) by morphological comparison. Kemajuan Penyelidikan 54: 10–15 [In Malay with English abstract]

  • Helander B Hailer F & Vila C 2007: Morphological and genetic sex identification of white-tailed eagle Haliaeetus albicilla nestings. Journal of Ornithology 148: 435–442.

  • Hill GE 1993: Male mate choice and the evolution of female plumage coloration in the house finch. Evolution 47: 1515–1525.

  • Jones DM Samour JH Knight JA & Finch JM 1984: Sex determination of monomorphic birds by fibreoptic endoscopy. Veterinary Record 115: 596–598.

  • Lee CH 1998: Barn owl – development and food utilization. Journal of Tropical Agriculture and Food Science 26: 151–157.

  • Longmire JL Maltbie M Pavelka ARW Smith LM Witte SM Ryder OA Ellsworth DL & Baker RJ 1993: Gender identification in birds using microsatellite dna fingerprint analysis. The Auk 110: 378–381.

  • Marti CD 1990: Sex and age dimorphism in the barn owl and a test of mate choice. The Auk 107: 246–254.

  • Marti CD 1992: Barn owl. The birds of North America. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology Ithaca. Retrieved on Month Day Year from https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/brnowl/.

  • Prus SE & Schmutz SM 1987: Comparative efficiency and accuracy of surgical and cytogenetic sexing in psittacines. Avian Diseases 31: 420–424.

  • Roulin A 1999: Nonrandom pairing by male barn owls (Tyto alba) with respect to a female plumage trait. Behavioral Ecology 10: 688–695.

  • Roulin A 2003: Geographic variation in sexually selected traits: a role for direct selection or genetic correlation? Journal of Avian Biology 34: 251–258.

  • Roulin A & Ducrest A-L 2011: Association between melanism physiology and behaviour: a role for the melanocortin system. European Journal of Pharmacology 660: 226–233.

  • Roulin A & Jensen H 2015: Sex-linked inheritance genetic correlations and sexual dimorphism in three melanin-based color traits in the barn owl. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 28: 655–666.

  • Roulin A & Randin C 2015: Gloger’s rule in North American barn owls. The Auk 132: 321–332.

  • Roulin A & Randin CF 2016: Barn owls display larger black feather spots in cooler regions of the British Isles. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 119: 445–454.

  • Roulin A Gasparini J Bize P Ritschard M & Richner H 2008: Melanin-based colorations signal strategies to cope with poor and rich environments. Behavioral Ecology Sociobiology 62: 507–519.

  • Roulin A Wink M & Salamin N 2009: Selection on a eumelanic ornament is stronger in the tropics than in temperate zones in the worldwide-distributed barn owl. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 22: 345–354.

  • Salim H Noor HM Hamid NH Omar D Kasim A & Abidin C 2014: Secondary poisoning of captive barn owls Tyto alba javanica through feeding with rats poisoned with chlorophacinone and bromadiolone. Journal of Oil Palm Research 26: 62–72.

  • Shields GF Jarrell GH & Redrupp E 1982: Enlarged sex chromosomes of woodpeckers (Piciformes). The Auk 99: 767–771.

  • Taylor IR 1994: Barn owls. Predator-prey relationship and conservation. Cambridge University Press Cambridge.

  • The Barn Owl Trust 1989: Sexing barn owls. Leaflet No 23. The Barn Owl Trust Ashburton Devon.

  • Van den Brink V Dolivo V Falourd X Dreiss A & Roulin A 2011: Melanic color-dependent antipredat- or behavior strategies in barn owl nestlings. Behavioral Ecology 23: 473–480.

  • Zwarts L Hulscher JB Koopman K & Zegers P 1996: Discriminating the sex of oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus. Ardea 84: 1–12.

Search
Journal information
Impact Factor


CiteScore 2018: 0.38

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.157
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.331

Metrics
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 157 106 9
PDF Downloads 273 204 33