Egg composition in relation to social environment and maternal physiological condition in the collared flycatcher

R. Hargitai, Kathryn E. Arnold, Márton Herényi, J. Prechl, J. Török

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Offspring survival can be influenced by resources allocated to eggs, which in turn may be affected by the environmental factors the mother experiences during egg formation. In this study, we investigated whether experimentally elevated social interactions and number of neighbouring pairs influence yolk composition of collared flycatchers (Ficedula albicollis). Social challenge was simulated by presentation of a conspecific female. Experimental females spent more time near the cage and produced eggs with higher androgen concentration, but local breeding density did not affect yolk androgen level. Moreover, we found that females exposed to more intra-specific interactions and those that bred at higher density produced eggs with smaller yolk. These females may be more constrained in foraging time due to more frequent social encounters, and there might be increased competition for food at areas of higher density. In contrast, the present study did not reveal any evidence for the effect of social environment on yolk antioxidant and immunoglobulin levels. However, we found that yolk lutein and immunoglobulin concentrations were related to the female's H/L ratio. Also, yolk lutein and α-tocopherol levels showed a seasonal increase and were positively related to the female's plasma carotenoid level. Mothers may incur significant costs by transferring these compounds into the eggs, thus only females in good physiological condition and those that lay eggs later, when food is probably more abundant, could allocate higher amounts to the eggs without compromising their defence mechanisms. Our results suggest that environmental circumstances during egg formation can influence conditions for embryonic development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)869-882
Number of pages14
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Volume63
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009

Fingerprint

egg composition
social environment
egg
oogenesis
androgen
androgens
lutein
immunoglobulins
intraspecific interaction
defense mechanism
food
Ficedula albicollis
defense mechanisms
tocopherols
embryonic development
carotenoid
cages
carotenoids
antioxidant
embryogenesis

Keywords

  • Androgens
  • Antioxidants
  • Breeding density
  • Collared flycatcher
  • Immunoglobulin
  • Maternal effects
  • Social challenge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

Cite this

Egg composition in relation to social environment and maternal physiological condition in the collared flycatcher. / Hargitai, R.; Arnold, Kathryn E.; Herényi, Márton; Prechl, J.; Török, J.

In: Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, Vol. 63, No. 6, 04.2009, p. 869-882.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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