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Biol Lett. 2006 Jun 22;2(2):229-31.

Sex allocation theory aids species conservation.

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  • 1University of Canterbury, School of Biological Sciences, PB 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand.


Supplementary feeding is often a key tool in the intensive management of captive and threatened species. Although it can increase such parameters as breeding frequency and individual survival, supplementary feeding may produce undesirable side effects that increase overall extinction risk. Recent attempts to increase breeding frequency and success in the kakapo Strigops habroptilus using supplementary feeding inadvertently resulted in highly male-biased chick sex ratios. Here, we describe how the inclusion of sex allocation theory has remedied this conservation dilemma. Our study is the first to manipulate chick sex ratios in an endangered species by altering maternal condition and highlights the importance of incorporating evolutionary theory into modern conservation practice.

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