Parental effects on offspring life histories: When are they important?

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Biology Letters, 2009, 5 (2), pp. 262 - 265
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Both the parental legacy and current environmental conditions can affect offspring life histories; however, their relative importance and the potential relationship between these two influences have rarely been investigated. We tested for the interacting effects of parental and juvenile environments on the early life history of the marine fish Acanthochromis polyacanthus. Juveniles from parents in good condition were longer and heavier at hatching than juveniles from parents in poor condition. Parental effects on juvenile size were evident up to 29 days post-hatching, but disappeared by 50 days. Offspring from good condition parents had higher early survival than offspring from poor-condition parents when reared in a low-food environment. By contrast, parental condition did not affect juvenile survival in the high-food environment. These results suggest that parental effects on offspring performance are most important when poor environmental conditions are encountered by juveniles. Furthermore, parental effects observed at hatching may often be moderated by compensatory mechanisms when environmental conditions are good. © 2009 The Royal Society.
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