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Parasite treatment affects maternal investment in sons

By T. E. Reed, F. Daunt, M. E Hall, R. A. Phillips, S. Wanless and E.J. A. Cunningham


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 affect of parasitism on sex ratio in vertebrates is seldom considered. Here 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

Topics: Zoology, Ecology and Environment
Year: 2008
DOI identifier: 10.1126/science.1159466
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