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Female Control of Offspring Sex Ratios Based on Male Attractiveness in the Guppy


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


The sex allocation hypothesis predicts that females manipulate the offspring sex ratios according to mate attractiveness. Although there is increasing evidence to support this prediction, it is possible that paternal effects may often obscure the relationship between female control of offspring sex ratios and male attractiveness. In the present study, we examined whether females played a primary role in the manipulation their offspring sex ratios based on male attractiveness, in the guppy Poecilia reticulata, a live-bearing fish. We excluded the paternal effects by controlling the relative sexual attractiveness of the male by presenting them to the females along with a more attractive or less attractive stimulus male. The test male was perceived to be relatively more attractive by females when it was presented along with a less attractive stimulus male, or vice versa. Subsequently, test male was mated in two different roles (relatively more and less attractive) with two females. If females were responsible for offspring sex ratio manipulation, the sex ratio of the brood would be altered on the basis of the relative attractiveness of the test male. On the other hand, if males play a primary role in offspring sex ratio manipulation, the sex ratios would not differ with the relative attractiveness of the test male. We found that females gave birth to more male-biased broods when they mated with test males in the attractive role than when they mated with males in the less attractive role. This finding suggests that females are responsible for the manipulation of offspring sex ratios based on the attractiveness of their mates.