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Biol Lett. 2006 Jun 22;2(2):225-8.

Mothers determine offspring size in response to own juvenile growth conditions.

Author information

1
University of Bern, Behavioural Ecology, Wohlenstrasse 50A, 3032 Hinterkappelen, Switzerland. barbara.taborsky@esh.unibe.ch

Abstract

Through non-genetic maternal effects, mothers can tailor offspring phenotype to the environment in which young will grow up. If juvenile and adult ecologies differ, the conditions mothers experienced as juveniles may better predict their offspring's environment than the adult environment of mothers. In this case maternal decisions about investment in offspring quality should already be determined during the juvenile phase of mothers. I tested this hypothesis by manipulating juvenile and adult maternal environments independently in a cichlid fish. Females raised in a poor environment produced larger young than females raised without food limitations, irrespective of the feeding conditions experienced during adulthood. This maternal boost was due to a higher investment in eggs and to faster larval growth. Apparently, mothers prepare their offspring for similar environmental conditions to those they encountered as juveniles. This explanation is supported by the distribution of these fishes under natural conditions. Juveniles live in a different and much narrower range of habitats than adults. Therefore, the habitat mothers experienced as juveniles will allow them to predict their offspring's environment better than the conditions in the adult home range.

PMID:
17148368
PMCID:
PMC1618922
DOI:
10.1098/rsbl.2005.0422
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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