Maternal effects obscure condition-dependent sex allocation in changing environments Academic Article uri icon


  • Climate change increases environmental fluctuations which thereby impact population demography. Species with temperature-dependent sex determination may experience more extreme sex ratio skews, but this has not been considered in species with chromosomally determined sex. However, anticipatory maternal effects cause lifelong physiological changes impacting sex ratios. Here we show, in mice, that more sons were born to mothers in good condition when their breeding environment matched their gestational environment, consistent with theoretical predictions, but mothers in mismatched environments have no condition–sex ratio relationship. Thus, the predicted effect of condition on sex ratio was obscured by maternal effects when the environment changed. This may explain extreme sex ratio skews in reintroduced or translocated populations, and sex ratio skews may become more common and less predictable with accelerating environmental change.

publication date

  • 2019