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Female differential allocation in response to extra-pair offspring and social mate attractiveness


Wilson, Kerianne; Burley, Nancy (2022), Female differential allocation in response to extra-pair offspring and social mate attractiveness, Dryad, Dataset,


Renewed debate over what benefits females might gain from producing extra-pair offspring emphasizes the possibility that apparent differences in quality between within-pair and extra-pair offspring are confounded by greater maternal investment in extra-pair offspring. Moreover, the attractiveness of a female’s social mate can also influence contributions of both partners to a reproductive attempt. Here we explore the complexities involved in parental investment decisions in response to extra-pair offspring and mate attractiveness with a focus on the female point of view. Adult zebra finches paired and reproduced in a colony setting. A male’s early-life diet quality and his extra-pair reproductive success were used as metrics of his mating attractiveness. Females paired with males that achieved extra-pair success laid heavier eggs than other females and spent less time attending their nests than their mates or other females. Extra-pair nestlings were fed more protein-rich hen’s egg than within-pair nestlings. Females producing extra-pair offspring had more surviving sons than females producing only within-pair offspring. Collectively, results show that females differentially allocate resources in response to offspring extra-pair status and their social mate’s attractiveness. Females may also obtain fitness benefits through the production of extra-pair offspring.