Maternal stress to partner quality is linked to adaptive offspring sex ratio adjustment

Pryke, Sarah R., Rollins, Lee A., Buttemer, William A. and Griffith, Simon C. 2011, Maternal stress to partner quality is linked to adaptive offspring sex ratio adjustment, Behavioral ecology, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 717-722, doi: 10.1093/beheco/arr040.

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Title Maternal stress to partner quality is linked to adaptive offspring sex ratio adjustment
Author(s) Pryke, Sarah R.
Rollins, Lee A.ORCID iD for Rollins, Lee A.
Buttemer, William A.
Griffith, Simon C.
Journal name Behavioral ecology
Volume number 22
Issue number 4
Start page 717
End page 722
Total pages 6
Publisher Oxford University Press
Place of publication Cary, N. C.
Publication date 2011
ISSN 1045-2249
Keyword(s) corticosterone
gouldian finch
mate choice
maternal effects
sex ratios
Summary Female birds have been shown to have a remarkable degree of control over the sex ratio of the offspring they produce. However, it remains poorly understood how these skews are achieved. Female condition, and consequent variation in circulating hormones, provides a plausible mechanistic link between offspring sex biases and the environmental and social stresses commonly invoked to explain adaptive sex allocation, such as diet, territory quality, and body condition. However, although experimental studies have shown that female perception of male phenotype alone can lead to sex ratio biases, it is unknown how partner quality influences female physiological state. Using a controlled within-female experimental design where female Gouldian finches (Erythrura gouldiae) bred with both high- and low-quality males, we found that partner quality directly affects female hormonal status and subsequent fitness. When constrained to breeding with low-quality males, females had highly elevated stress responses (corticosterone levels) and produced adaptive male-biased sex ratios, whereas when they bred with high-quality males, females had low corticosterone levels and produced an equal offspring sex ratio. There was no effect of other maternal hormones (e.g., testosterone) or body condition on offspring sex ratios. Female physiological condition during egg production, and variation in circulating hormones in particular, may provide a general mechanistic route for strategic sex allocation in birds.
Language eng
DOI 10.1093/beheco/arr040
Field of Research 060899 Zoology not elsewhere classified
060201 Behavioural Ecology
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2011, Oxford University Press
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