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Maternal effects impact decision-making in a viviparous lizard


Munch, KL and Noble, DWA and Botterill-James, T and Koolhof, IS and Halliwell, B and Wapstra, E and While, GM, Maternal effects impact decision-making in a viviparous lizard, Biology Letters, 14, (4) Article 20170556. ISSN 1744-9561 (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society

DOI: doi:10.1098/rsbl.2017.0556


Stressful conditions experienced during early development can have deleterious effects on offspring morphology, physiology and behaviour. However, few studies have examined how developmental stress influences an individual’s cognitive phenotype. Using a viviparous lizard, we show that the availability of food resources to a mother during gestation influences a key component of her offspring’s cognitive phenotype: their decision-making. Offspring from females who experienced low resource availability during gestation did better in an anti-predatory task that relied on spatial associations to guide their decisions, whereas offspring from females who experienced high resource availability during gestation did better in a foraging task that relied on colour associations to inform their decisions. This shows that the prenatal environment can influence decision-making in animals, a cognitive trait with functional implications later in life.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:cognition, developmental stress, information bias, ontogeny, diet, reptiles
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Behavioural ecology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Munch, KL (Ms Kirke Munch)
UTAS Author:Noble, DWA (Dr Dan Noble)
UTAS Author:Botterill-James, T (Dr Thomas Botterill-James)
UTAS Author:Koolhof, IS (Mr Iain Koolhof)
UTAS Author:Halliwell, B (Dr Benjamin Halliwell)
UTAS Author:Wapstra, E (Professor Erik Wapstra)
UTAS Author:While, GM (Associate Professor Geoff While)
ID Code:125286
Year Published:2018
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DP150102900)
Web of Science® Times Cited:16
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2018-04-11
Last Modified:2019-03-04

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