, Volume 60, Issue 3, pp 392-398
Date: 08 Mar 2006

Yolk androgen deposition as a compensatory strategy

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The deposition of androgens into the yolks of eggs can have long-lasting effects on the growth and development of young birds. It has been proposed that female birds and reptiles deposit yolk androgens according to the differential allocation hypothesis (DAH), which posits the allocation of more resources to offspring sired by more attractive, higher-quality males. We examined deposition patterns of yolk androgens in relation to mate attractiveness in the house finch Carpodacus mexicanus. Contrary to the predictions of the DAH, female house finches deposited significantly more androgens into eggs sired by less attractive males. We propose that, rather than serving as resources, androgens are used as mediators in a compensatory distribution strategy, enabling females to improve the quality of young produced with less attractive males.

Communicated by J. Graves