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J Evol Biol. 2011 Apr;24(4):904-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2011.02228.x. Epub 2011 Feb 10.

Brood sex ratio variation in a cooperatively breeding bird.

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Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.


In cooperatively breeding species, the fitness consequences of producing sons or daughters depend upon the fitness impacts of positive (repayment hypothesis) and negative (local competition hypothesis) social interactions among relatives. In this study, we examine brood sex allocation in relation to the predictions of both the repayment and the local competition hypotheses in the cooperatively breeding long-tailed tit Aegithalos caudatus. At the population level, we found that annual brood sex ratio was negatively related to the number of male survivors across years, as predicted by the local competition hypothesis. At an individual level, in contrast to predictions of the repayment hypothesis, there was no evidence for facultative control of brood sex ratio. However, immigrant females produced a greater proportion of sons than resident females, a result consistent with both hypotheses. We conclude that female long-tailed tits make adaptive decisions about brood sex allocation.

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