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Do Gravid Females Become Selfish? Female Allocation of Energy during Gestation

Keisuke Itonaga, Susan M. Jones and Erik Wapstra
Physiological and Biochemical Zoology: Ecological and Evolutionary Approaches
Vol. 85, No. 3 (May/June 2012), pp. 231-242
DOI: 10.1086/665567
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/665567
Page Count: 12
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Do Gravid Females Become Selfish? Female Allocation of Energy during Gestation
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Abstract

AbstractNet energy availability depends on plasma corticosterone concentrations, food availability, and their interaction. Limited net energy availability requires energy trade-offs between self-maintenance and reproduction. This is important in matrotrophic viviparous animals because they provide large amounts of energy for embryos, as well as self-maintenance, for the extended period of time during gestation. In addition, gravid females may transmit environmental information to the embryos in order to adjust offspring phenotype. We investigated effects of variation in maternal plasma corticosterone concentration and maternal food availability (2 × 2 factorial design) during gestation on offspring phenotype in a matrotrophic viviparous lizard (Pseudemoia entrecasteauxii). Subsequently, we tested preadaptation of offspring phenotype to their postnatal environment by measuring risk-averse behavior and growth rate using reciprocal transplant experiments. We found that maternal net energy availability affected postpartum maternal body condition, offspring snout-vent length, offspring mass, offspring performance ability, and offspring fat reserves. Females treated with corticosterone allocated large amounts of energy to their own body condition, and their embryos allocated more energy to energy reserves than somatic growth. Further, offspring from females in high plasma corticosterone concentration showed compensatory growth. These findings suggest that while females may be selfish when gestation conditions are stressful, the embryos may adjust their phenotype to cope with the postnatal environment.

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