The Adaptive Sex in Stressful Environments

The impact of early stress on juvenile development has intrigued scientists for decades, but the adaptive significance of such effects remains an ongoing debate. This debate has largely ignored some characteristics of the offspring, such as their sex, despite strong evolutionary and demographic implications of sex-ratio variation. We review recent studies that examine associations between glucocorticoids (GCs), the main class of stress hormones, and offspring sex. Whereas exposure to GCs at around the time of sex determination in fish consistently produces males, the extent and direction of sex-ratio bias in response to stress vary in reptiles, birds, and mammals. We propose proximate and ultimate explanations for most of these trends.

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Geffroy Benjamin, Douhard Mathieu (2019). The Adaptive Sex in Stressful Environments. Trends In Ecology & Evolution. 34 (7). 628-640.,

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