Avian ecologists and physiologists have different sexual preferences

S.P. Caro

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Seasonal timing is studied by ecologists and physiologists alike and it is now widely recognized that further integration of these fields is needed for a full understanding of phenology. This is especially true in the light of the impact of global climate change on living organisms. In studies of avian reproduction, one obstacle to this integration is that ecologists and physiologists do not allocate their research efforts equally to males and females. The physiological orchestration of breeding stages has been studied almost exclusively in males, while in avian ecology and evolutionary biology females are more often considered. This sex bias has severe implications: sexes differ in the way they use external cues to organize their life cycles, but often cue in on each other’s physiology and behavior. The simultaneous investigation of both males and females within single studies is thus essential. In this review, I begin by illustrating the sex-bias in studies and attempt to explain its origin. I then provide a number of examples in which focusing on a single sex would have resulted in misleading conclusions. Finally, I review some classical studies of female reproductive physiology that have promoted and developed research on the “forgotten-sex”.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
JournalGeneral and Comparative Endocrinology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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