Male sexual attractiveness affects the investment of maternal resources into the eggs in peafowl (Pavo cristatus)


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Abstract

According to the differential investment hypothesis, females paired with attractive mates are expected to invest more in the current reproduction relative to females paired with unattractive males. We experimentally tested this hypothesis in the peafowl (Pavo cristatus) by providing females with males that differed in sexual attractiveness. In agreement with the differential allocation hypothesis, females paired with more ornamented males laid larger eggs, and deposited higher amounts of testosterone into the egg yolk, independently of the sex of the embryo. These results show that the association between paternal phenotype and offspring quality could arise via a differential maternal investment. They also suggest that, if ornamented males do transmit good genes to the progeny, the maternal differential investment can amplify the effect of such good genes on the offspring fitness.

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