Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 37, Issue 6, pp 413–418

Influence of maternal food availability on offspring dispersal

  • M. Massot
  • J. Clobert

DOI: 10.1007/BF00170589

Cite this article as:
Massot, M. & Clobert, J. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (1995) 37: 413. doi:10.1007/BF00170589


Prenatal effects caused by the maternal environment during gestation are known to contribute to the phenotype of the offspring. Whether they have some adaptive value is currently under debate. We experimentally tested the existence of such a maternal effect (food availability during gestation) on dispersal of offspring in the common lizard (Lacerta vivipara). Pregnant females were captured and kept in the laboratory until parturition. During this period, females were offered two rates of food delivery. After parturition, we released mothers and offspring at the mother's capture point. Dispersal of young was significantly affected by the mother's nutrition. To our knowledge, this is the first evidence of a prenatal effect on dispersal. Offspring of well fed mothers dispersed at a higher rate than those of less well fed mothers. As current hypotheses clearly predict the opposite result, our evidence calls for their reassessment. Dispersers are not always the least fit individuals or those coming from the poorest environments.

Key words

Dispersal Environmental fluctuations Food availability Prenatal effects Reptile 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Massot
    • 1
  • J. Clobert
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut d'Ecologie, CNRS - URA 258Université de Paris VIParis Cedex 05France

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