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Direct exposure to corticosterone during embryonic development influences behaviour in an ovoviviparous lizard

Author:
  • Tobias Uller
  • Mats Olsson
Publishing year: 2006
Language: English
Pages: 390-397
Publication/Series: Ethology
Volume: 112
Issue: 4
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Abstract english

It is becoming increasingly clear that conditions experienced during embryonic development can be of major importance for traits subsequent to parturition or hatching. For example, in mammals, offspring from stressed mothers show a variety of changes in behavioural, morphological, and life-history traits. The effects of maternal stress on trait development are believed to be mediated via transfer of glucocorticoids, the main hormones released during the stress response, from mother to offspring. However, also other physiological maternal responses during stress could be responsible for changes in offspring phenotype. We investigated the direct effects of corticosterone on offspring development, without other confounding factors related to increased maternal stress, by injection of corticosterone in eggs of the ovoviviparous lizard Lacerta vivipara. Corticosterone-manipulated offspring did not show impaired development, reduced body size or body condition at parturition. However, corticosterone-treated offspring showed altered anti-predator behaviour, as measured by the time required to emerge from shelter after a simulated predator attack. Differential steroid exposure during development, possibly mediated by maternal stress response, may explain some of the variation in behaviour among individuals in natural populations.

Keywords

  • Biological Sciences

Other

Published
  • ISSN: 1439-0310
Tobias Uller
E-mail: tobias.uller [at] biol.lu.se

Professor

Evolutionary ecology

+46 46 222 30 94

E-C256

Sölvegatan 37, Lund

50

Research group

Experimental Evolution, Ecology & Behaviour

Projects

Doctoral students and postdocs

I am currently about to move to Lund from University of Oxford. For details about DPhil students and postdocs in my previous research group based at the Edward Grey Institute, please click here

Downloads & links

CV (pdf; 241 kB)