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Biol Lett. 2005 Mar 22;1(1):31-3.

Temperature-dependent sex ratio in a bird.

Author information

1
Animal Behaviour Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia. ann@galliform.bhs.mq.edu.au

Abstract

To our knowledge, there is, so far, no evidence that incubation temperature can affect sex ratios in birds, although this is common in reptiles. Here, we show that incubation temperature does affect sex ratios in megapodes, which are exceptional among birds because they use environmental heat sources for incubation. In the Australian brush-turkey Alectura lathami, a mound-building megapode, more males hatch at low incubation temperatures and more females hatch at high temperatures, whereas the proportion is 1:1 at the average temperature found in natural mounds. Chicks from lower temperatures weigh less, which probably affects offspring survival, but are not smaller. Megapodes possess heteromorphic sex chromosomes like other birds, which eliminates temperature-dependent sex determination, as described for reptiles, as the mechanism behind the skewed sex ratios at high and low temperatures. Instead, our data suggest a sex-biased temperature-sensitive embryo mortality because mortality was greater at the lower and higher temperatures, and minimal at the middle temperature where the sex ratio was 1:1.

PMID:
17148121
PMCID:
PMC1629050
DOI:
10.1098/rsbl.2004.0247
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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