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Physiological factors influencing female fertility in birds

Assersohn, Katherine; Brekke, Patricia; Hemmings, Nicola; (2021) Physiological factors influencing female fertility in birds. Royal Society Open Science , 8 (7) , Article 202274. 10.1098/rsos.202274. Green open access

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Abstract

Fertility is fundamental to reproductive success, but not all copulation attempts result in a fertilized embryo. Fertilization failure is especially costly for females, but we still lack a clear understanding of the causes of variation in female fertility across taxa. Birds make a useful model system for fertility research, partly because their large eggs are easily studied outside of the female's body, but also because of the wealth of data available on the reproductive productivity of commercial birds. Here, we review the factors contributing to female infertility in birds, providing evidence that female fertility traits are understudied relative to male fertility traits, and that avian fertility research has been dominated by studies focused on Galliformes and captive (relative to wild) populations. We then discuss the key stages of the female reproductive cycle where fertility may be compromised, and make recommendations for future research. We particularly emphasize that studies must differentiate between infertility and embryo mortality as causes of hatching failure, and that non-breeding individuals should be monitored more routinely where possible. This review lays the groundwork for developing a clearer understanding of the causes of female infertility, with important consequences for multiple fields including reproductive science, conservation and commercial breeding.

Type: Article
Title: Physiological factors influencing female fertility in birds
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rsos.202274
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.202274
Language: English
Additional information: © 2021 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: Hatching failure, female fertility, reproduction, egg production, sperm storage, fertilization
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10153296
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