Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Lizard moms may prepare their babies for a stressful world

Date:
April 19, 2012
Source:
University of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
Stressed out lizard moms tend to give their developing embryos short shrift, but the hardship may ultimately be a good thing for the babies once they're born, according to a new study.

Skink mothers under stress allocate more energy to self-preservation at the cost of their developing offspring. But the rough start may actually be a benefit to the babies once they're born.
Credit: Erik Wapstra

Stressed out lizard moms tend to give their developing embryos short shrift, but the hardship may ultimately be a good thing for the babies once they're born, according to a study published in the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoology.

Stress changes the way animals allocate energy. During predator attacks or food shortages, hormones are released that help the body to access stored energy. But for pregnant females there's a potential trade-off. Stress hormones could rob precious energy from developing embryos, leading to offspring that aren't as healthy.

A research team led by Erik Wapstra of the University of Tasmania, Australia, tested the effects of stress on southern grass skinks, which, unlike many lizards, give birth to live young rather than laying eggs.

In the lab, the researchers recreated the physiology of a stressful situation by artificially raising levels of the stress hormone corticosterone in pregnant skins. Other skinks had their food intake limited, recreating the stress of a food shortage. The team then measured the health of the stressed mothers and their eventual offspring, and compared their state to mothers and offspring that weren't under stress.

The study found that stressed moms gave birth to smaller offspring that grew more slowly than those born to low-stress mothers. Stressed mothers themselves were found to be in better physical shape after giving birth than non-stressed mothers. That's a signal that when stressors are present, mothers tend to allocate energy to self-preservation first.

Despite seemingly getting the short end of the stick, the news wasn't all bad for offspring of stressed mothers. "We found that small offspring had larger fat reserves relative to body size…, which may enhance offspring survival in a stressful post-natal environment," the researchers write. Previous studies have also shown that smaller juvenile lizards often do better when predator density is high or when food availability is low.

It appears that a mother's stress-induced selfishness may actually help to pre-adapt her babies for a stressful world.


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. Keisuke Itonaga, Susan M. Jones, Erik Wapstra. Do Gravid Females Become Selfish? Female Allocation of Energy during Gestation. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 2012; 85 (3): 231 DOI: 10.1086/665567

Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Press Journals. "Lizard moms may prepare their babies for a stressful world." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419143121.htm>.
University of Chicago Press Journals. (2012, April 19). Lizard moms may prepare their babies for a stressful world. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419143121.htm
University of Chicago Press Journals. "Lizard moms may prepare their babies for a stressful world." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419143121.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

AP (July 22, 2014) Sounding alarms about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, CDC Director Tom Frieden warned Tuesday if the global community does not confront the problem soon, the world will be living in a devastating post-antibiotic era. (July 22) Video provided by AP
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