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The social formation of fitness: lifetime consequences of prenatal nutrition and postnatal care in a wild mammal population

E. I. K. Vitikainen Orcid Logo, M. Meniri Orcid Logo, H. H. Marshall Orcid Logo, F. J. Thompson Orcid Logo, R. Businge, F. Mwanguhya, S. Kyabulima, K. Mwesige, S. Ahabonya, J. L. Sanderson, G. Kalema-Zikusoka Orcid Logo, J. I. Hoffman Orcid Logo, D. Wells Orcid Logo, G. Lewis, S. L. Walker Orcid Logo, Hazel Nichols Orcid Logo, J. D. Blount Orcid Logo, M. A. Cant Orcid Logo

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Volume: 378, Issue: 1883

Swansea University Author: Hazel Nichols Orcid Logo

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DOI (Published version): 10.1098/rstb.2022.0309

Abstract

Research in medicine and evolutionary biology suggests that the sequencing of parental investment has a crucial impact on offspring life history and health. Here, we take advantage of the synchronous birth system of wild banded mongooses to test experimentally the lifetime consequences to offspring...

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Published in: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
ISSN: 0962-8436 1471-2970
Published: The Royal Society 2023
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa63715
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Abstract: Research in medicine and evolutionary biology suggests that the sequencing of parental investment has a crucial impact on offspring life history and health. Here, we take advantage of the synchronous birth system of wild banded mongooses to test experimentally the lifetime consequences to offspring of receiving extra investment prenatally versus postnatally. We provided extra food to half of the breeding females in each group during pregnancy, leaving the other half as matched controls. This manipulation resulted in two categories of experimental offspring in synchronously born litters: (i) ‘prenatal boost’ offspring whose mothers had been fed during pregnancy, and (ii) ‘postnatal boost’ offspring whose mothers were not fed during pregnancy but who received extra alloparental care in the postnatal period. Prenatal boost offspring lived substantially longer as adults, but postnatal boost offspring had higher lifetime reproductive success (LRS) and higher glucocorticoid levels across the lifespan. Both types of experimental offspring had higher LRS than offspring from unmanipulated litters. We found no difference between the two experimental categories of offspring in adult weight, age at first reproduction, oxidative stress or telomere lengths. These findings are rare experimental evidence that prenatal and postnatal investments have distinct effects in moulding individual life history and fitness in wild mammals.
Keywords: early life effects, cooperative breeding, social evolution, fetal programming, evolution of parental care
College: Faculty of Science and Engineering
Funders: The research was funded by an ERC grant (grant no. 309249) and a Leverhulme International Fellowship to M.C. and a NERC standard grant (grant no. NE/N011171/1) to J.D.B. and M.A.C.
Issue: 1883