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J Exp Biol. 2014 Dec 1;217(Pt 23):4184-92. doi: 10.1242/jeb.108738. Epub 2014 Oct 30.

Long-life partners or sex friends? Impact of parental pair bond on offspring personality.

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  • 1Laboratory of Animal and Human Ethology UMR/CNRS 6552 Ethos, University of Rennes, 35042 Rennes, France
  • 2Laboratory of Animal and Human Ethology UMR/CNRS 6552 Ethos, University of Rennes, 35042 Rennes, France.


Previous investigations reported that some traits of parental relationships, including pair-bond duration or mate behavioural compatibility, influence subsequent offspring fitness by acting on their behaviour and growth and thus their early survival. We hypothesized that the development of a pair bond between sexual partners would have a prenatal influence. This study investigated the impact of two pairing managements on the egg characteristics and development of offspring of Japanese quail (Coturnix c. japonica). Thirty males and 30 females were paired either continuously (C; mates together all the time) or non-continuously (NC; pairs met only three times a week for 5 min). Separation-reunion tests evaluated parental pair bond. Egg yolk testosterone and androstenedione levels were evaluated, and the somatic and behavioural development of C and NC chicks was assessed. Our results revealed that members of C pairs were attached to their mates and, although no significant differences in androgen levels could be evidenced between egg sets, a higher proportion of C pairs' eggs were fertilized and their chicks appeared less emotive and more social. Our results revealed that the parental relationship can modulate the behavioural development of their offspring, probably via non-genetic effects, and this could play a major role in the emergence of inter-individual variability.


Attachment; Hormonal assay; Pair bond; Precocial bird; Prenatal influence

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