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Science. 2008 Sep 19;321(5896):1681-2. doi: 10.1126/science.1159466. Epub 2008 Aug 7.

Parasite treatment affects maternal investment in sons.

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  • 1Institute of Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JT, UK. tomreed@u.washington.edu

Erratum in

  • Science. 2010 Apr 30;328(5978):569.

Abstract

Parasitism can be a major constraint on host condition and an important selective force. Theoretical and empirical evidence shows that maternal condition affects relative investment in sons and daughters; however, the effect of parasitism on sex ratio in vertebrates is seldom considered. We demonstrate experimentally that parasitism constrains the ability of mothers to rear sons in a long-lived seabird, the European shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis. The effect contributes to the decline in offspring survival as the breeding season progresses and hence has important population-level consequences for this, and potentially other, seasonal breeders.

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