Meeting Abstract

21-2  Thursday, Jan. 5 10:45 - 11:00  Evolutionary Consequences and Proximate Mechanisms of Maternal Styles in a Wild Mammal WESTRICK, SE*; VAN KESTEREN, F; BOUTIN, S; HUMPHRIES, MM; LANE, J; MCADAM, AG; DANTZER, B; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI; University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB; McGill University, Montreal, QC; University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK; University of Guelph, Guelph, ON; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI westse@umich.edu

Animal personality, or repeatable individual differences in behavior, may have important ecological and evolutionary consequences. Mother-offspring interactions may be influenced by animal personality, as care provided by females of many mammal species can vary significantly between individuals. These repeatable differences in maternal care are one aspect of personality that has been referred to as “maternal styles” and they may have an impact on the phenotypic development of offspring. Although maternal styles have been studied in many species, the mechanisms behind maternal styles and the ultimate consequences on offspring survival are not well known. In this study, we address potential mechanisms and evolutionary consequences of individual variation in maternal style of a wild mammal. Previous lab studies have shown maternal stress and behavior can influence offspring behavior. With a wild population of North American red squirrels, we observed maternal behavior during and following a simulated predator intrusion to investigate maternal styles. To assess potential mechanisms of variation in maternal styles, we collected data on maternal fecal glucocorticoid metabolite levels, a measurement of stress, during pregnancy and lactation. To assess consequences of maternal styles on phenotypic development and offspring survival, we measured offspring personality using open-field trials, and used recruitment into the population as a measure of survival. This study investigates the influence of stress hormone levels on maternal styles and the impact of maternal styles on offspring recruitment and personality.