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Adaptive Offspring Sex Ratio Depends on Male Tail Length in the Guppy


Kenji Karino, Department of Biology, Tokyo Gakugei University, Nukui-kita 4-1-1, Koganei, Tokyo 184-8501, Japan.


A biased sex ratio in a brood is considered to be an adaptive strategy under certain circumstances. For example, if the expected reproductive success of one sex is greater than that of the other, parents should produce more offspring of the former sex than the latter. A previous study has documented that in the guppy, Poecilia reticulata, the female offspring of males possessing proportionally longer tails exhibit smaller body sizes and show decreased reproductive outputs than those of males having shorter tails. On the other hand, the total lengths of the male offspring of the long-tailed males are larger because of their longer tails; consequently, they exhibit greater sexual attractiveness to females. Therefore, it has been hypothesized that this asymmetry in the expected reproductive success between the male and female offspring of long-tailed males may result in a biased sex ratio that is dependent on the tail lengths of their fathers. This hypothesis was tested in the present study. The results showed that the females that mated with long-tailed males produced more male offspring than those that mated with short-tailed males. Logistic regression analysis showed that the ratio of tail length to the standard length of the fathers is a determinant factor of the sex of their offspring. These results suggest that the manipulation of the offspring sex ratios by parents enhances the overall fitness of the offspring.