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Trans-generational influence of human disturbances in japanese quail: Egg quality influences male social and sexual behaviour

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http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons179283

Hirschenhauser,  K.
Abteilung Gahr, Seewiesen, Max Planck Institut für Ornithologie, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Bertin, A., Hirschenhauser, K., & Kotrschal, K. (2009). Trans-generational influence of human disturbances in japanese quail: Egg quality influences male social and sexual behaviour. Ethology, 115(9), 879-887. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0310.2009.01672.x.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002D-EA22-F
Abstract
In many bird species prenatal exposure to yolk androgens of maternal origin has been found to influence offspring behavioural phenotype. In contrast to altricial birds, far less is known about maternal effects in precocial birds. In a previous experiment we found that female quail (Coturnix japonica) that were not previously habituated to humans (NH) produced eggs with less androgens (testosterone, androstenedione) and more progesterone when exposed to human disturbances than females habituated to humans (H). Here, we analysed social motivation and sexual behaviour of the male offspring of NH and H females. Classical behavioural test procedures were applied including separation, runway, partner choice and female encounter tests. As chicks, offspring of the NH females spent more time far from conspecifics than offspring of the H females. As adults, the same NH males showed less crowing and courtship behaviour (ritual preening) in female encounter tests than H males. Thus, maternal environment and egg quality may be key factors in the emergence of individual variability of appetitive behaviour, such as social proximity and courtship behaviour. Human disturbance of the mother seems to have triggered trans-generational effects resulting in consistently reduced social and sexual motivation in offspring until adulthood.