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Mind the gap: the ratio of yolk androgens and antioxidants varies between sons and daughters dependent on paternal attractiveness

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Author(s)

E. C. Pariser, L. Gilbert, N. Hazon, K.E. Arnold, J. A. Graves

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Females are expected to partition resources between offspring in a context-dependent way to maximise total fitness returns from a reproductive attempt. Female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) vary the allocation of yolk androgens and antioxidants among offspring. Importantly, the balance between androgens and antioxidants in yolks may be more important than their independent absolute amounts in terms of fitness consequences for developing young. Therefore, we tested whether the relative allocation of these two resources in yolks varies according to either the Trivers-Willard, positive or compensatory maternal investment hypothesis. We manipulated male attractiveness using coloured leg bands (red-banded males appear attractive; green-banded males, unattractive) and measured yolk androgens and antioxidants in each egg, egg sex, clutch sex ratio and female condition. While female zebra finches manipulated the balance of androgens and antioxidants within and between clutches in response to mate attractiveness, offspring sex and their own condition, they did not do so in a way that consistently followed any of the hypotheses. Mothers paired with unattractive males allocated a larger antioxidant/androgen ratio to daughters than sons. This pattern was reversed when paired to an attractive male; sons received a larger antioxidant/androgen ratio than daughters. We also found offspring sex ratio decreased with increasing female condition for unattractive males, but not for attractive males. However, without knowing the fitness consequences of the balance of different egg constituents, it is difficult to interpret the patterns consistently in terms of the Trivers-Willard, compensatory and positive investment hypotheses.

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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-527
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Volume66
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2012

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