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How effective are maternal effects at having effects?

By A.P. Beckerman, T.G. Benton, C.T. Lapsley and N. Koesters

Abstract

The well studied trade-off between offspring size and offspring number assumes that offspring fitness increases with increasing per-offspring investment. Where mothers differ genetically or exhibit plastic variation in reproductive effort, there can be variation in per capita investment in offspring, and via this trade-off, variation in fecundity. Variation in per capita investment will affect juvenile performance directly—a classical maternal effect—while variation in fecundity will also affect offspring performance by altering the offsprings' competitive environment. The importance of this trade-off, while a focus of evolutionary research, is not often considered in discussions about population dynamics. Here, we use a factorial experiment to determine what proportion of variation in offspring performance can be ascribed to maternal effects and what proportion to the competitive environment linked to the size–number trade-off. Our results suggest that classical maternal effects are significant, but that in our system, the competitive environment, which is linked to maternal environments by fecundity, can be a far more substantial influence

Publisher: The Royal Society
Year: 2006
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.whiterose.ac.uk:1313

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