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Chicks from stressed females elicit overprotective behaviour in adoptive mother quail

Abstract : Beyond the genetic links between mother and young, prenatal effects experienced by offspring can modulate their mother’s behaviour and stress. Here we investigated the consequences of stress-induced prenatal maternal effects on quail chicks’ behaviour and maternal behaviour. We evaluated how adoptive quail mothers (unstressed) raised chicks of females that had either been stressed (PS) or were non-stressed (NPS) during laying. We demonstrated previously that our social stress procedure during laying increases levels of egg yolk steroid and chicks’ emotional reactivity during the postnatal period. We found that, compared to NPS mothers, PS mothers remained closer to their chicks, were aggressed and neglected them less, emitted more maternal vocalisations and called their chicks more when they were separated. Moreover, PS chicks made more requests on their mother. Our results show that mothers responded to chicks’ behavioural changes caused by prenatal stress by adapting their maternal behaviour. As exemplified here, for the first time in birds, prenatal environment can affect postnatal maternal behaviour by changing their offspring’s behaviour.
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Nadège Aigueperse, Cécilia Houdelier, Océane Le Bot, Emmanuel de Margerie, Sophie Lumineau. Chicks from stressed females elicit overprotective behaviour in adoptive mother quail. Behavioural Processes, Elsevier, 2020, 179, pp.104193. ⟨10.1016/j.beproc.2020.104193⟩. ⟨hal-02891636⟩



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