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Biol Lett. 2007 Apr 22;3(2):131-3.

Like mother, like daughter: inheritance of nest-site location in snakes.

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  • 1Biological Sciences A08, University of Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia.


A trait can be passed from parents to offspring even if it has no genetic basis. For example, if daughters return to reproduce at the same sites where they were hatched themselves, nest-site location is consistent within matrilineages. Most cases of natal homing (nest-site philopatry) across generations have been inferred from molecular evidence rather than directly demonstrated, and involve species with low dispersal abilities. However, some animals disperse long distances but then return to their own place of birth to reproduce, based on cues imprinted early in their own development. Our field studies on tropical natricine snakes (Tropidonophis mairii, Colubridae) show that when they are ready to nest, females return to the sites where their mothers were captured pre-nesting, and where they themselves were released as hatchlings.

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