The environment experienced by a mother can have profound effects on the fitness of her offspring (i.e., maternal effects). Maternal effects can be adaptive when the developmental environments experienced by offspring promote phenotypes that provide fitness benefits either via matching offspring phenotype to the post-developmental environment (also known as anticipatory maternal effects) or through direct effects on offspring growth and survival. We tested these hypotheses in a viviparous lizard using a factorial experimental design in which mothers received either high or low amounts of food during gestation, and resultant offspring were raised on either high or low amounts of food post-birth. We found no effect of food availability during gestation on reproductive traits of mothers or offspring traits at birth. However, offspring from mothers who received low food during gestation exhibited a greater increase in condition in the post-birth period, suggesting some form of priming of offspring by mothers to cope with an anticipated poor environment after birth. Offspring that received low food during gestation were also more likely to die, suggesting a trade-off for this accelerated growth. There were also significant effects of post-birth food availability on offspring snout-vent length and body condition growth, with offspring with high food availability post birth doing better. However, the effects of the pre- and post-natal resource evnironment on offspring growth were independent on one another, therefore, providing no support for the presence of anticipatory maternal effects in the traditional sense.
- Developmental plasticity
- Maternal effect