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. 2018 Jul;14(7):20180346.
doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2018.0346.

Age-specific Patterns of Maternal Investment in Common Gull Egg Yolk

Free PMC article

Age-specific Patterns of Maternal Investment in Common Gull Egg Yolk

Janek Urvik et al. Biol Lett. .
Free PMC article


While the general patterns of age-specific changes in reproductive success are quite well established in long-lived animals, we still do not know if allocation patterns of maternally transmitted compounds are related to maternal age. We measured the levels of yolk testosterone, carotenoids and vitamins A and E in a population of known-aged common gulls (Larus canus) and found an age-specific pattern in yolk lutein and vitamin A concentrations. Middle-aged mothers allocated more of these substances to yolk compared to young and old mothers. These results can be explained through differences in age-specific foraging, absorption or deposition patterns of carotenoids and vitamins into yolk. If these molecules play a role in antioxidant defence and immune modulation, our results suggest a possible physiological pathway underlying the age-specific changes in reproductive success of long-lived birds in the wild.

Keywords: carotenoids; maternal effects; reproductive senescence; testosterone.


Figure 1.
Figure 1.
Associations between female common gull age and egg characteristics. Continuous line indicates a significant association with age square of the female, dashed line indicates a trend.

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