The effect of maternal state on the steroid and macronutrient content of lesser black-backed gull eggs

Verboven, N., Monaghan, P., Nager, R. G. and Evans, N. P. (2010) The effect of maternal state on the steroid and macronutrient content of lesser black-backed gull eggs. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 83(6), pp. 1009-1022. (doi: 10.1086/656568) (PMID:20977361)

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It has been proposed that female birds can influence the phenotype of their offspring by provisioning eggs with variable amounts of nutrients and maternal hormones. Egg quality is strongly influenced by maternal body reserves and the amount of food available at the time of egg formation. This study investigated the effects of maternal state and food availability on the capacity of female lesser black-backed gulls Larus fuscus to provision their eggs with macronutrients and steroid hormones. Maternal state was reduced by increasing egg-production effort, whereas extra food was provided to reverse this effect. Compared with eggs of first clutches, eggs of experimentally induced replacement clutches exhibited a lower yolk/albumen ratio and contained more yolk testosterone. During one of the three years in which the study was performed, replacement eggs also contained more 17β-estradiol. Food provisioning during the relaying interval did not affect changes in yolk/albumen ratio or steroid concentrations, but fed females produced bigger eggs in their replacement clutch. This study demonstrates significant within-female consistency in egg size, macronutrient content, and yolk steroid concentration, and it shows that these egg characteristics are influenced by maternal state, food availability, and the timing of breeding.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Monaghan, Professor Pat and Evans, Professor Neil and Nager, Dr Ruedi and Verboven, Dr Nanette
Authors: Verboven, N., Monaghan, P., Nager, R. G., and Evans, N. P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Life Sciences
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Physiological and Biochemical Zoology
Publisher:University of Chicago Press
ISSN (Online):1537-5293
Published Online:26 October 2010

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
318601Sex differences in post-natal vulnerability to poor embryonic conditionsRudolf NagerBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)S17271Life Sciences Animal Biology