Mothers adjust offspring sex to match the quality of the rearing environment

Pryke, Sarah R. and Rollins, Lee A. 2012, Mothers adjust offspring sex to match the quality of the rearing environment, Proceedings of the Royal Society B : biological sciences, vol. 279, pp. 4051-4057, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2012.1351.

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Title Mothers adjust offspring sex to match the quality of the rearing environment
Author(s) Pryke, Sarah R.
Rollins, Lee A.ORCID iD for Rollins, Lee A.
Journal name Proceedings of the Royal Society B : biological sciences
Volume number 279
Start page 4051
End page 4057
Total pages 7
Publisher The Royal Society Publishing
Place of publication London, England
Publication date 2012-10-07
ISSN 0962-8452
Keyword(s) sex allocation
nutrition quality
maternal diet
maternal condition
sex-specific costs
Summary Theory predicts that mothers should adjust offspring sex ratios when the expected fitness gains or rearing costs differ between sons and daughters. Recent empirical work has linked biased offspring sex ratios to environmental quality via changes in relative maternal condition. It is unclear, however, whether females can manipulate offspring sex ratios in response to environmental quality alone (i.e. independent of maternal condition). We used a balanced within-female experimental design (i.e. females bred on both low- and high-quality diets) to show that female parrot finches (Erythrura trichroa) manipulate primary offspring sex ratios to the quality of the rearing environment, and not to their own body condition and health. Individual females produced an unbiased sex ratio on high-quality diets, but over-produced sons in poor dietary conditions, even though they maintained similar condition between diet treatments. Despite the lack of sexual size dimorphism, such sex ratio adjustment is in line with predictions from sex allocation theory because nutritionally stressed foster sons were healthier, grew faster and were more likely to survive than daughters. These findings suggest that mothers may adaptively adjust offspring sex ratios to optimally match their offspring to the expected quality of the rearing environment.
Language eng
DOI 10.1098/rspb.2012.1351
Field of Research 060201 Behavioural Ecology
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2012, Royal Society Publishing
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