Prenatal maternal effects appear to be insensitive to experimental or natural environmental variation: Environmental effects on egg traits

Caroline E Thomson, Jarrod Hadfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

1. In many birds, hatching asynchrony is a common phenomenon, primarily driven by patterns of incubation behaviour. However, experimental results in blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) have shown that asynchrony is reduced by intrinsic properties of later eggs that accelerate pre-natal development.
2. These intrinsic differences between early and late eggs could be driven by changes in resource availability to females, which are then passively passed onto the egg. Alternatively, it may be due to an anticipatory maternal effect, wherein some signal or resource is actively placed within the egg, which is beneficial to those eggs laid late within the clutch.
3. In order to distinguish between these hypotheses we designed a supplementary feeding experiment, wherein females were provided with food at certain times during the laying phase. This had no discernible effect on development rate, or other egg characteristics, consistent with anticipatory maternal effects.
4. Using a larger data set we also tested whether natural environmental variation (weather) during egg formation affected maternal investment in eggs. Similarly, egg characteristics were found to be relatively insensitive to the environmental variation, supporting the experimental results.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFunctional Ecology
Early online date8 May 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2017

Keywords

  • anticipatory maternal effect
  • Cyanistes caeruleus
  • development
  • eggs
  • food supplementation
  • passive effects
  • weather

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Prenatal maternal effects appear to be insensitive to experimental or natural environmental variation: Environmental effects on egg traits'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this