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Prenatal environmental effects match offspring begging to parental provisioning

journal contribution
posted on 01.01.2009, 00:00 authored by C Hinde, Kate BuchananKate Buchanan, R Kilner
The solicitation behaviours performed by dependent young are under selection from the environment created by their parents, as well as wider ecological conditions. Here we show how mechanisms acting before hatching enable canary offspring to adapt their begging behaviour to a variable post-hatching world. Cross-fostering experiments revealed that canary nestling begging intensity is positively correlated with the provisioning level of their own parents (to foster chicks). When we experimentally increased food quality before and during egg laying, mothers showed higher faecal androgen levels and so did their nestlings, even when they were cross-fostered before hatching to be reared by foster mothers that had been exposed to a standard regime of food quality. Higher parental androgen levels were correlated with greater levels of post-hatching parental provisioning and (we have previously shown) increased faecal androgens in chicks were associated with greater begging intensity. We conclude that androgens mediate environmentally induced plasticity in the expression of both parental and offspring traits, which remain correlated as a result of prenatal effects, probably acting within the egg. Offspring can thus adapt their begging intensity to variable family and ecological environments.

History

Journal

Royal Society of London. Proceedings. Biological Sciences

Volume

276

Issue

1668

Pagination

2787 - 2794

Publisher

The Royal Society Publishing

Location

London, England

ISSN

0962-8452

eISSN

1471-2954

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2009, The Royal Society