Send to

Choose Destination
Proc Biol Sci. 2006 Aug 7;273(1596):1901-5.

Maternal developmental stress reduces reproductive success of female offspring in zebra finches.

Author information

Department of Animal Behaviour, University Bielefeld, PO Box 100131, 33501 Bielefeld, Germany.


Environmental factors play a key role in the expression of phenotypic traits and life-history decisions, specifically when they act during early development. In birds, brood size is a main environmental factor affecting development. Experimental manipulation of brood sizes can result in reduced offspring condition, indicating that developmental deficits in enlarged broods have consequences within the affected generation. Yet, it is unclear whether stress during early development can have fitness consequences projecting into the next generation. To study such trans-generational fitness effects, we bred female zebra finches, Taeniopygia guttata, whose mothers had been raised in different experimental brood sizes. We found that adult females were increasingly smaller with increasing experimental brood size in which their mother had been raised. Furthermore, reproductive success at hatching and fledging covaried negatively with the experimental brood size in which their mothers were raised. These results illustrate that early developmental stress can have long-lasting effects affecting reproductive success of future generations. Such trans-generational effects can be life-history responses adapted to environmental conditions experienced early in life.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center