Food availability affects the maternal transfer of androgens and antibodies into eggs of a colonial seabird

J Evol Biol. 2007 May;20(3):874-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2007.01315.x.


Mothers can improve the quality of their offspring by increasing the level of certain components in their eggs. To examine whether or not mothers increase deposition of such components in eggs as a function of food availability, we food-supplemented black-legged kittiwake females (Rissa tridactyla) before and during egg laying and compared deposition of androgens and antibodies into eggs of first and experimentally induced replacement clutches. Food-supplemented females transferred lower amounts of androgens and antibodies into eggs of induced replacement clutches than did non-food-supplemented mothers, whereas first clutches presented no differences between treatments. Our results suggest that when females are in lower condition, they transfer more androgens and antibodies into eggs to facilitate chick development despite potential long-term costs for juveniles. Females in prime condition may avoid these potential long-term costs because they can provide their chicks with more and higher quality resources.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Androgens / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Antibodies / metabolism*
  • Charadriiformes / metabolism
  • Charadriiformes / physiology*
  • Clutch Size
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Maternal Behavior
  • Nesting Behavior
  • Ovum / metabolism*


  • Androgens
  • Antibodies