Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 61, Issue 7, pp 1043–1052 | Cite as

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

  • Adeline Loyau
  • Michel Saint Jalme
  • Robert Mauget
  • Gabriele Sorci
Original Paper


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.


Good genes Maternal differential investment Egg size Yolk testosterone Sexual selection 



We thank Jarek Szczepaniak and the keepers for their help in catching the birds, Laetitia Girard and Camille Liaigre for their assistance in rearing the chicks, and Didier Catteville for his technical advice. Many thanks is due for all the people who adopted the chicks. We are very grateful to Tim Parker, Jeff Graves, and an anonymous referee who greatly improved this manuscript. This work was supported by the CNRS (ACI Jeunes Chercheurs to GS), MNHN, and Conseil Général de Seine Maritime. The experiment conducted herein complies with the current laws of the country in which it was performed.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adeline Loyau
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michel Saint Jalme
    • 2
  • Robert Mauget
    • 2
  • Gabriele Sorci
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Parasitologie Evolutive, CNRS UMR 7103Université Pierre et Marie CurieParis Cedex 05France
  2. 2.Conservation des Espèces, Restauration et Suivi des Populations, CNRS UMR 5173Muséum National d’Histoire NaturelleParisFrance

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