CR 49:201-210 (2011)  -  DOI:

Maternal effects and changing phenology of bird migration

Anders Pape Møller1,*, Clotilde Biard2, Filiz Karadas3, Diego Rubolini4, Nicola Saino4, Peter F. Surai5

1Laboratoire d’Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution, CNRS UMR 8079, Université Paris-Sud, Bâtiment 362, 91405 Orsay Cedex, France
2UPMC Paris 06, CNRS UMR 7625, Laboratoire Ecologie-Evolution, 75252 Paris Cedex 05, France
3University of Yuzuncu Yil, Department of Animal Science, 65980 Van, Turkey
4Dipartimento di Biologia, Università degli Studi di Milano,Via Celoria 26, 20133 Milano, Italy
5Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition, Avian Science Research Centre, Scottish Agricultural College, Ayr KA6 5HW, UK

ABSTRACT: Recent changes in migration distances and propensity for migration associated with climate change have suggested that these traits can evolve rapidly. Part of this rapid response to selection may be due to maternal effects that facilitate changes in the underlying physiology of migration. We hypothesize that exposure to large amounts of antioxidants in the egg will facilitate assimilation and metabolism of dietary antioxidants later in life, thereby allowing offspring to better cope with extreme strenuous exercise such as the bursts of rapid migration shown during spring migration. We tested the relationship between temporal change in mean arrival date of migratory birds since 1960 and concentrations of 2 antioxidants in the eggs of 14 species of birds. Only egg concentration of vitamin E was a significant predictor of advancement in spring arrival date. Furthermore, we experimentally manipulated egg content of vitamin E in barn swallows Hirundo rustica and subsequently recorded arrival date of yearling male recruits. Arrival date advanced significantly by >1 standard deviation due to treatment, providing experimental evidence for a relationship between egg concentration of vitamin E and subsequent migration behavior. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that maternal effects have played an important role in the evolution of bird migration.

KEY WORDS: Maternal effects · Phenology · Phenotypic plasticity · Vitamin A · Vitamin E

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Cite this article as: Møller AP, Biard C, Karadas F, Rubolini D, Saino N, Surai PF (2011) Maternal effects and changing phenology of bird migration. Clim Res 49:201-210.

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