Document Detail

Maternal yolk androgens stimulate territorial behaviour in black-headed gull chicks.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  19515649     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Avian eggs contain substantial amounts of maternal androgens. The concentrations of these yolk androgens are affected by the maternal environment, such as the level of social competition, parasite exposure or food conditions. Since yolk androgens have been shown to affect a wide array of offspring traits, they may adjust the chicks to the expected post-hatching environment, but experimental evidence is still scarce. We investigate in colonial breeding black-headed gulls whether high concentrations of yolk androgens, such as those found in environments with high numbers of social interactions, facilitate aggressiveness and territorial behaviour of the chicks. Black-headed gulls are highly suitable for this, as the semi-precocial chicks defend the natal territory and food against intruders. We manipulated yolk androgen concentrations and investigated their role in both within-nest and between-nest aggression. We found that chicks hatching from androgen-treated eggs defended the natal territory more often than their nest mates from control eggs, without increasing sibling aggression. This suggests that variation in yolk androgen concentrations in relation to the social environment of the mother may indeed allow adjustment of the offspring's behaviour to the expected frequency of territorial interactions with conspecifics post-hatching.
Wendt Müller; Cor Dijkstra; Ton G G Groothuis
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't     Date:  2009-06-10
Journal Detail:
Title:  Biology letters     Volume:  5     ISSN:  1744-957X     ISO Abbreviation:  Biol. Lett.     Publication Date:  2009 Oct 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2009-09-14     Completed Date:  2009-11-17     Revised Date:  2013-06-02    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101247722     Medline TA:  Biol Lett     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  586-8     Citation Subset:  IM    
Behavioural Biology, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.
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MeSH Terms
Androgens / physiology*
Charadriiformes / metabolism,  physiology*
Egg Proteins / physiology*
Nesting Behavior*
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Androgens; 0/Egg Proteins

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