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Biol Lett. 2006 Dec 22;2(4):586-9.

Where do all the maternal effects go? Variation in offspring body size through ontogeny in the live-bearing fish Poecilia parae.

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School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales 2052, Australia.


Maternal effects are an important source of adaptive variation, but little is known about how they vary throughout ontogeny. We estimate the contribution of maternal effects, sire genetic and environmental variation to offspring body size from birth until 1 year of age in the live-bearing fish Poecilia parae. In both the sexes, maternal effects on body size were initially high in juveniles, and then declined to zero at sexual maturity. In sons, this was accompanied by a sharp rise in sire genetic variance, consistent with the expression of Y-linked loci affecting male size. In daughters, all variance components decreased with time, consistent with compensatory growth. There were significant negative among-dam correlations between early body size and the timing of sexual maturity in both sons and daughters. However, there was no relationship between early life maternal effects and adult longevity, suggesting that maternal effects, although important early in life, may not always influence late life-history traits.

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