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Maternally derived androgens and antioxidants in bird eggs : complementary but opposing effects?

Royle, Nick J. and Surai, P. F. and Hartley, Ian R. (2001) Maternally derived androgens and antioxidants in bird eggs : complementary but opposing effects? Behavioral Ecology, 12 (4). pp. 381-385. ISSN 1465-7279

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Abstract

Maternally derived traits, such as within-clutch variation in the amount of testosterone deposited in egg yolks, may have profound effects on offspring fitness. Offspring with elevated levels of testosterone may benefit from increased competitive ability through effects on aggression and growth rate. However, elevated levels of testosterone are also associated with costs of increased peroxidative damage from free radicals and consequent oxidative stress. Diet-derived antioxidants, such as vitamin E and various carotenoids, provide protection against the deleterious effects of oxidative stress. Here we show that within-clutch variation in yolk testosterone is the opposite to that of yolk antioxidant concentration in the lesser black-backed gull Larus fuscus. We provide evidence that suggests that these two direct maternal effects are, in fact, complementary and, in conjunction with an indirect maternal effect (the onset of incubation), may provide an adaptive mechanism for parental favoritism in response to environmental variability. The potential implications of these findings with respect to previous investigations on variation in yolk testosterone concentrations and on the understanding of intrafamilial dynamics are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Behavioral Ecology
Uncontrolled Keywords: brood reduction ; carotenoids ; maternal effects ; parental favoritism ; sibling competition ; testosterone.
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Departments: Faculty of Science and Technology > Lancaster Environment Centre
ID Code: 9133
Deposited By: Dr Ian R Hartley
Deposited On: 28 May 2008 11:15
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2012 18:32
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/9133

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