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Low food availability during gestation enhances offspring post-natal growth, but reduces survival, in a viviparous lizard


Botterill-James, T and Munch, KL and Halliwell, B and Chapple, DG and Gardner, MG and Wapstra, E and While, GM, Low food availability during gestation enhances offspring post-natal growth, but reduces survival, in a viviparous lizard, Oecologia, 189, (3) pp. 611-620. ISSN 0029-8549 (2019) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2019 Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature

DOI: doi:10.1007/s00442-019-04349-5


The environment experienced by a mother can have profound effects on the fitness of her offspring (i.e., maternal effects). Maternal effects can be adaptive when the developmental environments experienced by offspring promote phenotypes that provide fitness benefits either via matching offspring phenotype to the post-developmental environment (also known as anticipatory maternal effects) or through direct effects on offspring growth and survival. We tested these hypotheses in a viviparous lizard using a factorial experimental design in which mothers received either high or low amounts of food during gestation, and resultant offspring were raised on either high or low amounts of food post-birth. We found no effect of food availability during gestation on reproductive traits of mothers or offspring traits at birth. However, offspring from mothers who received low food during gestation exhibited a greater increase in condition in the post-birth period, suggesting some form of priming of offspring by mothers to cope with an anticipated poor environment after birth. Offspring that received low food during gestation were also more likely to die, suggesting a trade-off for this accelerated growth. There were also significant effects of post-birth food availability on offspring snout-vent length and body condition growth, with offspring with high food availability post birth doing better. However, the effects of the pre- and post-natal resource evnironment on offspring growth were independent on one another, therefore, providing no support for the presence of anticipatory maternal effects in the traditional sense.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Egernia, Liopholis, lizard, developmental plasticity, maternal effect
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:Botterill-James, T (Mr Thomas Botterill-James)
UTAS Author:Munch, KL (Ms Kirke Munch)
UTAS Author:Halliwell, B (Mr Benjamin Halliwell)
UTAS Author:Wapstra, E (Associate Professor Erik Wapstra)
UTAS Author:While, GM (Dr Geoff While)
ID Code:130662
Year Published:2019
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DP150102900)
Web of Science® Times Cited:3
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2019-02-07
Last Modified:2020-07-21

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