Yolk androstenedione, but not testosterone, predicts offspring fate and reflects parental quality
Yolk androgen deposition is a widely investigated maternal effect in birds, but its adaptive value is at present unclear. The offspring fitness correlates of natural yolk androgen levels are virtually unknown, whereas manipulations largely focused on testosterone and neglected other androgens. We determined yolk concentrations of the 2 dominant androgens, androstenedione and testosterone, from all eggs in collared flycatcher clutches and followed the fate of individual offspring from these eggs in a crossfostering experiment. Yolk concentration of androstenedione was much higher than that of testosterone. Offspring from eggs with relatively higher androstenedione concentrations within a clutch were relatively large after hatching, grew slower thereafter, and had a higher recruitment rate in subsequent years. The increase of androstenedione with laying order and its within-clutch variance were negatively correlated with a condition-dependent female ornament, perhaps indicating compensatory hormone deposition into later hatching eggs by females in low condition. Yolk testosterone variation within or among clutches was not related to any measured aspect of offspring or parental quality. Our results suggest that in some species, especially those with much more androstenedione than testosterone in the yolk, androstenedione and not testosterone may be the yolk androgen with a long-term function and adaptive deposition pattern. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.
Volume (Year): 22 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
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