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Offspring sex ratio is related to paternal train elaboration and yolk corticosterone in peafowl

Lookup NU author(s): Thomas Pike, Emerita Professor Marion Petrie


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Several recent experimental studies have provided strong evidence for the ability of birds to manipulate the sex ratio of their offspring prior to laying. Using a captive population of peafowl (Pavo cristatus), we tested experimentally the effects of paternal attractiveness on offspring sex ratio, and related sex ratio deviations to egg-yolk concentrations of testosterone, 17β-estradiol and corticosterone. When females were mated to males whose attractiveness had been experimentally reduced by removing prominent eyespot feathers from their trains, they produced significantly more female offspring, had significantly higher yolk corticosterone concentrations and tended to have lower levels of yolk testosterone than when mated to the same males with their full complement of feathers. Concentrations of 17β-estradiol did not vary consistently with sex ratio biases. These findings add to the small number of studies providing experimental evidence that female birds can control the primary sex ratio of their offspring in response to paternal attractiveness, and highlight the possibility that corticosterone and perhaps testosterone are involved in the sex manipulation process in birds. © 2005 The Royal Society.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pike TW, Petrie M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Biology Letters

Year: 2005

Volume: 1

Issue: 2

Pages: 204-207

ISSN (print): 1744-9561

ISSN (electronic): 1744-957X

Publisher: The Royal Society Publishing


DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2005.0295


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