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Natural selection acts in opposite ways on correlated hormonal mediators of prenatal maternal effects in a wild bird population


Tschirren, Barbara; Postma, Erik; Gustafsson, Lars; Groothuis, Ton G G; Doligez, Blandine (2014). Natural selection acts in opposite ways on correlated hormonal mediators of prenatal maternal effects in a wild bird population. Ecology Letters, 17(10):1310-1315.

Abstract

Maternal hormones are important mediators of prenatal maternal effects. Although many experimental studies have demonstrated their potency in shaping offspring phenotypes, we know remarkably little about their adaptive value. Using long-term data on a wild collared flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis) population, we show that natural selection acts in opposite ways on two maternally-derived androgens, yolk androstenedione (A4) and yolk testosterone (T). High yolk A4 concentrations are associated with higher fitness, whereas high yolk T concentrations are associated with lower fitness. Natural selection thus favors females that produce eggs with high A4 and low T concentrations. Importantly, however, there exists a positive (non-genetic) correlation between A4 and T, which suggests that females are limited in their ability to reach this adaptive optimum. Thereby these results provide strong evidence for an adaptive value of differential maternal androgen deposition, and a mechanistic explanation for the maintenance of variation in maternal investment in the wild.

Abstract

Maternal hormones are important mediators of prenatal maternal effects. Although many experimental studies have demonstrated their potency in shaping offspring phenotypes, we know remarkably little about their adaptive value. Using long-term data on a wild collared flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis) population, we show that natural selection acts in opposite ways on two maternally-derived androgens, yolk androstenedione (A4) and yolk testosterone (T). High yolk A4 concentrations are associated with higher fitness, whereas high yolk T concentrations are associated with lower fitness. Natural selection thus favors females that produce eggs with high A4 and low T concentrations. Importantly, however, there exists a positive (non-genetic) correlation between A4 and T, which suggests that females are limited in their ability to reach this adaptive optimum. Thereby these results provide strong evidence for an adaptive value of differential maternal androgen deposition, and a mechanistic explanation for the maintenance of variation in maternal investment in the wild.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Adaptation; adaptive phenotypic plasticity; maintenance of variation; maternal effects; natural selection; prenatal effects; trade-off; transgenerational effects; yolk androgens; yolk hormones
Language:English
Date:6 August 2014
Deposited On:26 Aug 2014 12:42
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 18:20
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1461-023X
Funders:Swiss National Science Foundation, Janggen-Pöhn Stiftung, Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB), Basler Stiftung für Biologische Forschung, French National Research Agency, French National Centre for Scientific Research, British Ecological Society, Swedish Research Council, FORMAS
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.12339

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