Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Exposing Chicks To Maternal Stress Leads To Long-term Reproductive Success

Date:
October 28, 2008
Source:
University of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
Exposure to maternal stress during pre-natal development has negative impacts, so why doesn't natural selection work to block it? European starling sons exposed to the stress hormone corticosterone experienced increased mortality. But those that survived were of better quality. The mothers began later broods in better condition, had increased future reproduction, and increased survival compared to "stressed" mothers that raised "normal" offspring that were not exposed to corticosterone.

Male and female nestling starlings face different developmental costs as they compete for access to the limited resources provided by a low quality mother.
Credit: Oliver P. Love

Do mothers purposely expose their offspring to their own stress? If so, why?

The question arises because it is widely accepted that exposure to maternal stress during pre-natal development can have negative impacts on offspring following birth. To examine why a stressed mother would allow this to happen, evolutionary physiologists Oliver Love and Tony Williams examined how offspring exposure to the maternally-derived stress hormone corticosterone affect maternal fitness in free-living European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris).

They experimentally increased yolk levels of corticosterone to mimic the "signal" offspring receive indicating they have a low quality mother. They then paired corticosterone-exposed hatchlings with experimentally manipulated low quality mothers to examine how these mothers fared in raising stress-exposed young compared with "normal" young.

Finally, they followed mothers within and across years to determine the long-term effects of the original manipulation on future reproductive success and maternal survival.

Their results provide the first evidence that low quality mothers benefit in the long-term from exposing offspring to their own stress: corticosterone exposure better "matches" offspring demand to a mother's immediate offspring-rearing capability. Corticosterone-exposed sons were of lower quality at hatching and when paired with a low-quality mother these sons experienced increased mortality.

However, because these mothers now had fewer mouths to feed, and of the smaller, less-demanding sex (daughters), the offspring that survived were of better quality. More importantly, by reducing investment in their current reproductive attempt, these "matched" mothers began second broods in better condition, had increased future reproductive output, and increased survival compared to "mis-matched" mothers (low-quality mothers that raised "normal'" offspring).

In the long-term, natural selection therefore appears to favor low-quality mothers that expose offspring to quality-mediated stress.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Oliver P. Love and Tony D. Williams. The Adaptive Value of Stress-Induced Phenotypes: Effects of Maternally Derived Corticosterone on Sex-Biased Investment, Cost of Reproduction, and Maternal Fitness. The American Naturalist, 2008; 172 (4): E135 DOI: 10.1086/590959

Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Press Journals. "Exposing Chicks To Maternal Stress Leads To Long-term Reproductive Success." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081021093942.htm>.
University of Chicago Press Journals. (2008, October 28). Exposing Chicks To Maternal Stress Leads To Long-term Reproductive Success. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081021093942.htm
University of Chicago Press Journals. "Exposing Chicks To Maternal Stress Leads To Long-term Reproductive Success." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081021093942.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lion Cubs the Pride of San Diego Zoo

Lion Cubs the Pride of San Diego Zoo

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 13, 2014) Roars of excitement as a proud lioness shows off her four cubs at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins