Consequences of experimentally elevated yolk testosterone levels for intra- and inter-sexual selection in canaries
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Behavioral ecology and sociobiology. - Berlin
, p. 1299-1309
University of Antwerp
Hormones of maternal origin transferred to the eggs of oviparous species have been shown to significantly affect offspring development. Furthermore, there is now increasing evidence that these effects may last into adulthood. This underlines the persistence of yolk hormone-mediated maternal effects as well as their trans-generational potential as these changes may involve fitness-related traits such as mate choice behaviour, reproductive traits and longevity. Here, we tested the potential of yolk testosterone to affect sexual selection by experimentally increasing the yolk testosterone levels via egg injections. We focused on two central axes of sexual selection, malemale competition for access to a female (intra-sexual selection) and female mate choice behaviour (inter-sexual selection), using canaries (Serinus canaria) as a model species. Neither male agonistic behaviour nor access to the opposite sex, as measured in staged malemale encounters in the presence of a female, were affected by experimentally elevating yolk testosterone levels. We did not find any evidence for effects on female mate choice behaviour either, given the lack of significant effects on mate choice activity, consistency in female mate choice or choosiness. In conclusion, our results indicate that the consequences of yolk testosterone for sexual selection through changes in behavioural traits, which are expressed during pair formation or malemale competition, are probably limited.