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Multi-model analysis of biased birth sex ratios in captive prosimians at the DLC

PI(s): Beaux Berkeley (James Madison University)
Start Date: 17-Jun-2013
End Date: 5-Aug-2013
Keywords: evolutionary theory, comparative methods, biodiversity, database, conservation biology

Certain life history traits and environmental cues are suspected to strongly link with offspring sex based on sex allocation, or provision of resources by the parents towards their offspring. Over the past forty years, sex allocation (SA) has been a rigorously tested theory, as having the ability to choose offspring sex would have significant agricultural, wildlife and human family planning benefits, yet the experimental results reported are often contradictory. Several theories have been proposed to explain the observed variation including the Trivers-Willard hypothesis; local resource competition; and its corollary, local resource enhancement. In the past ten years, it has been suggested that the physiological mechanisms responsible for sex allocation may involve changes in circulating glucose or steroid hormone concentrations around the time of conception. Part of the confusion in understanding SA is that many different species and both proximate and distal types of variables (i.e. physiological, endocrinological, and ecological) have been analyzed. The Duke Lemur Center database provides a fortuitous opportunity to conduct a comparative analysis of evolutionary theories on causes for biased birth sex ratios in a large group of closely related prosimians primate species.