Genetic Incompatibility Drives Sex Allocation and Maternal Investment in a Polymorphic Finch

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Science  20 Mar 2009:
Vol. 323, Issue 5921, pp. 1605-1607
DOI: 10.1126/science.1168928

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Genetic compatibility may drive individual mate choice decisions because of predictable fitness effects associated with breeding with incompatible partners. In Gouldian finches (Erythrura gouldiae), females paired with genetically incompatible males of alternative color morphs overproduce sons, presumably to reduce investment in inviable daughters. We also observed a reduced overall investment in clutch size, egg size, and care to offspring resulting from incompatible matings. Within-female experimental pairings demonstrate that female birds have the ability to adaptively adjust the sex of their eggs and allocate resources on the basis of partner quality. Female Gouldian finches thus make cumulative strategic allocation decisions to minimize the costs of poor-quality pairings when faced with a genetically incompatible partner.

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