Influence of maternal food availability on offspring dispersal
- Cite this article as:
- Massot, M. & Clobert, J. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (1995) 37: 413. doi:10.1007/BF00170589
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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.