Male Attractiveness and Differential Testosterone Investment in Zebra Finch Eggs

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Science  01 Oct 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5437, pp. 126-128
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5437.126

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Good-genes hypotheses of sexual selection predict that offspring fathered by preferred males should have increased viability resulting from superior genetic quality. Several studies of birds have reported findings consistent with this prediction, but maternal effects are an important confounding variable. Those studies that have attempted to control for maternal effects have only considered differential maternal investment after egg laying. However, female birds differentially deposit testosterone in the eggs, and this influences the development of the chick. This study shows that female birds deposit higher amounts of testosterone and 5α-dihydrotestosterone in their eggs when mated to more attractive males.

  • * Present address: Laboratoire de Psychophysiologie et d'Ethologie, UPRESA-CNRS 7025 Université de Paris X, 92001 Nanterre, France.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed: E-mail: Diego.Gil{at}

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