Birds of Indian Subcontinent

Maternal testosterone in tree swallow eggs varies with female aggression

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2002
Authors:Whittingham, LA, Schwabl, H
Journal:Animal Behaviour
Date Published:2002
ISBN Number:0003-3472
Keywords:Hirundinidae, Hirundo, Hirundo rustica, Tachycineta, Tachycineta bicolor
Abstract:Variation in the investment of maternal resources in eggs, such as proteins and lipids, can have a profound influence on the growth and development of young. Maternal resources transferred to eggs also include androgens found in the yolk. In several species of birds the concentration of testosterone in the yolk either increases or decreases with laying order. Yolk testosterone has been shown to have various effects on the young including enhanced growth and dominance as well as reduced survival. Previous work suggested that the concentration of testosterone in the yolk may be influenced by the female's social conditions, specifically the frequency of aggressive interactions. In tree swallows, Tachycineta bicolor, we found that yolk testosterone was correlated with the aggressive interactions of the female before and during egg laying. In contrast to other species, yolk testosterone did not vary with laying order in tree swallows. Thus, patterns of yolk testosterone are more variable than thought previously and may be influenced by the social conditions experienced by the female during laying.
Short Title:Animal Behaviour
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith