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Parasite Treatment Affects Maternal Investment in Sons

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Science  19 Sep 2008:
Vol. 321, Issue 5896, pp. 1681-1682
DOI: 10.1126/science.1159466

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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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