Current theory recognizes the adaptive value of maternal effects in shaping offspring phenotypes in response to selective pressures and vindicates the value of these traits in fostering adaptation and speciation. Yolk androgens in birds are a relatively well-known maternal effect and have been linked to adaptations related to development, coloniality life, and sexual selection. We tested whether interspecific patterns of yolk androgen levels (androstenedione and testosterone) were related to interspecific variation in development, sexual selection, and coloniality. First, we found no relationship between androgen levels and duration of development as reflected by incubation and nestling periods. However, androstenedione concentration was positively related to the relative duration of the incubation period and negatively related to the relative duration of the nestling period. These relationships were confirmed by analyses of phylogenetically independent contrasts. We suggest that androstenedione concentration may have evolved as a mechanism to shift the relative duration of development between the egg and nestling stages in response to selective pressures that differentially affect the duration of each stage. Second, neither plumage dichromatism nor mating system explained significant variation in yolk androgen levels after correction for similarity among species due to common descent. This finding indicates that sexual selection has not been an important selective pressure for this maternal effect. Third, we found a highly significant positive relationship between degree of breeding coloniality and concentration of androstenedione but not testosterone. These effects were confirmed in analyses of contrasts controlling for similarity due to common descent. Since the relationship with coloniality was different for each androgen, it is unlikely that increased levels of androgens in highly colonial species are a mere consequence of elevated androgen levels in mothers. Rather, our results suggest that high levels of androstenedione in eggs of colonial species are an adaptation to colony life, possibly related to the production of highly competitive phenotypes. In conclusion, from a comparative perspective, the results of this study support the role of maternal effects in promoting adaptation to certain environmental pressures.
|Titolo:||Evolution of yolk androgens in birds: development, coloniality, and sexual dichromatism|
|Parole Chiave:||Androstenedione; Coloniality; Dichromatism; Maternal effects; Testosterone; Yolk androgens|
|Settore Scientifico Disciplinare:||Settore BIO/07 - Ecologia|
Settore BIO/05 - Zoologia
|Data di pubblicazione:||2007|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||10.1086/516652|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||01 - Articolo su periodico|