Evolution of sex-biased maternal effects in birds: II. Contrasting sex-specific oocyte clustering in native and recently established populations

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In species that produce broods of multiple offspring, parents need to partition resources among simultaneously growing neonates that often differ in growth requirements. In birds, multiple ovarian follicles develop inside the female at the same time, resulting in a trade-off of resources among them and potentially limiting maternal ability for sex-specific allocation. We compared resource acquisition among oocytes in relation to their future sex and ovulation order in two populations of house finches with contrasting sex-biased maternal strategies. In a native Arizona population, where mothers do not bias offspring sex in relation to ovulation order, the male and female oocytes did not show sex-specific trade-offs of resources during growth and there was no evidence for spatial or temporal segregation of male and female oocytes in the ovary. In contrast, in a recently established Montana population where mothers strongly bias offspring sex in relation to ovulation order, we found evidence for both intra-sexual trade-offs among male and female oocytes and sex-specific clustering of oocytes in the ovary. We discuss the importance of sex-specific resource competition among offspring for the evolution of sex-ratio adjustment and sex-specific maternal resource allocation.

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