Coadaptation of offspring begging and parental provisioning: A role for prenatal maternal effects?

Estramil, N., Groothuis, T. G. G., Eens, M., de Vries, B. & Muller, W., Jan-2017, In : Hormones and Behavior. 87, p. 129-136 8 p.

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  • Coadaptation of offspring begging and parental provisioning

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Recent studies on birds have shown that offspring begging and parental provisioning covary at the phenotypic level, which is thought to reflect genetic correlations. However, prenatal maternal factors, like yolk testosterone, may also facilitate parent-offspring coadaptation via their effects on offspring begging and development. In fact, maternal effects are thought to adjust offspring phenotype to the environmental conditions they will experience after birth, which are in turn strongly dependent on the levels of parental provisioning. Using cross-fostering experiments in canaries, we tested the role of maternal effects on parent-offspring coadaptation from two different approaches. First, we analyzed whether females deposit yolk testosterone in relation to their own or their partner's prospective parental provisioning, measured as the rate of parental feeding to foster nestlings. Second, we investigated whether females deposit yolk testosterone in relation to costs they incurred when raising a previous brood, as this likely impinges on their capacity to provide parental care in the near future. However, from the results of both experiments we have no evidence that canary females deposit yolk testosterone in order to match offspring begging to the levels of care they and/or their partners provide. We therefore found no evidence that yolk testosterone facilitates parent-offspring coadaptation. In addition, our results suggest that the functional consequences of yolk testosterone deposition may relate to hatching asynchrony since it primarily varied with egg laying order.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-136
Number of pages8
JournalHormones and Behavior
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2017


  • Prenatal factors, Environmental effects, Differential allocation, Parent-offspring coevolution, FLYCATCHER FICEDULA-ALBICOLLIS, YOLK TESTOSTERONE, GENETIC-BASIS, BROOD SIZE, EGGS, INVESTMENT, GROWTH, COSTS, CONSEQUENCES, DEPOSITION

ID: 65274124