The adaptive significance of maternal effects

Trends Ecol Evol. 1998 Oct 1;13(10):403-7. doi: 10.1016/s0169-5347(98)01472-4.


Recently, the adaptive significance of maternal effects has been increasingly recognized. No longer are maternal effects relegated as simple `troublesome sources of environmental resemblance' that confound our ability to estimate accurately the genetic basis of traits of interest. Rather, it has become evident that many maternal effects have been shaped by the action of natural selection to act as a mechanism for adaptive phenotypic response to environmental heterogeneity. Consequently, maternal experience is translated into variation in offspring fitness.