Pre-breeding diet affects the allocation of yolk hormones in zebra finches Taeniopygia guttata
Sandell, M., I.; Adkins-Regan, E.; Ketterson, E., D.
Journal of Avian Biology 38(3): 284-290
ISSN/ISBN: 0908-8857 DOI: 10.1111/j.2007.0908-8857.03640.x
The ability of mothers to modify offspring phenotype to match prevailing environmental conditions is an important component of reproductive success, especially in variable environments. Pre-breeding conditions, such as food abundance, may have significant consequences for both the number and quality of offspring a female produces as well as her ability to rear the offspring. In an experiment where pre-breeding diet was manipulated, we investigated if allocation of yolk androgens (testosterone and 5 alpha-dihydrotestosterone) was related to the quality of diet experienced prior to breeding. Female zebra finches Taeniopygia guttata produced larger clutches on high quality diet than on low quality diet but with no differences in egg mass. Yolk androgen levels were repeatable within subsequent clutches of the same female and females did not change mean androgen content in eggs in relation to diet quality. However, within-in Clutch pattern of yolk testosterone and DHT changed with diet treatment. Testosterone and DHT decreased with laying order on the low quality diet but remained constant on the high quality diet. Differential yolk androgen allocation within the clutch may alter the competitive differences between chicks and provide females the possibility to adjust reproductive investment and offspring phenotype already at the egg stage.