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Maternal effects in the Zebra Finch : a model mother reviewed

journal contribution
posted on 01.08.2010, 00:00 authored by S Griffith, Kate BuchananKate Buchanan
Birds are a particularly good group with which to examine the importance of maternal effects, as parental contributions can be relatively easily quantified compared with other groups. There have undoubtedly been more studies on maternal effects in the Zebra Finch than any other single bird species. Studies of this species have examined the importance of maternal effects mediated through sex allocation, size, nutrients and hormones of of eggs, incubation behaviour and provisioning levels. A synthesis of all of this work illustrates some contrasting results (e.g. many high-profile results have failed to be replicated), some very common patterns (e.g. investment shifts through the laying sequence), and potentially interesting and complex interactions between traits (e.g. between sex of offspring and hormonal profiles of eggs). This extensive collection of work on the Zebra Finch provides useful general insight into the patterns of maternal investment in birds and the effects on offspring phenotype. However, we caution that the literature is probably littered with studies that have overemphasised the importance of some maternal effects and recent studies have highlighted analytical and logical flaws that have probably led to misplaced confidence in some of the findings reported to date. Finally, it is worth considering that the bulk of the literature is based on studies of captive domesticated birds and ecological and physiological data from individuals in the wild is currently lacking. The biological relevance of maternal effects documented in this model species is therefore unclear.

History

Journal

Emu

Volume

110

Issue

3

Pagination

251 - 267

Publisher

CSIRO Publishing

Location

Melbourne, Vic.

ISSN

0158-4197

eISSN

1448-5540

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2010, Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union