Emerging sex allocation research in mammals: marsupials and the pouch advantage

Kyle Robert, Lisa Schwanz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


1. Adaptive adjustments in offspring sex ratios in mammals have long been reported, but the conditions and mechanisms that prompt shifts in the proportion of sons and daughters born are still unclear. 2. Empirical evidence indicates that offspring sex in mammals can be related to a diversity of environmental and maternal traits. However, the underlying assumptions regarding offspring and maternal fitness are rarely tested. 3. Physiological mechanisms of maternal selection of offspring sex may occur at many stages during the prolonged maternal investment stage, and a pluralistic approach to studying mechanisms might prove fruitful. 4. This review highlights the apparent frequency, in marsupial mammals, of sex ratio bias, which has largely been recorded as conforming to one of a few hypotheses. 5. Marsupials are ideally suited to experiments involving cross-fostering of offspring, which can allow rigorous tests of the fitness consequences of rearing one sex vs. the other. The reproductive biology of marsupials lends the group to detailed studies of the timing and physiological correlates of offspring sex biases. 6. Many components of metatherian biology may prove advantageous in experimental studies of sex allocation in mammals, and together may provide a prosperous avenue for examining adaptive and mechanistic hypotheses in mammalian sex allocation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalMammal Review
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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