Paper 1 Discussion Question

Adkins-Regan et al., 2013 Reading Discussion Leader Question 1:

In the conclusions the authors of the paper state that (when referring to parental effects on offspring) “Some are hormonally mediated or have hormonal consequences. Some are behaviorally mediated or have behavioral consequences. Some are influenced by social factors or learning.” Do you think that some parental effects could be mediated by an interaction between hormones and behavior? If so, why? If not, why not? Please explain using just 2-3 sentences.

8 thoughts on “Paper 1 Discussion Question

  1. Interactions between hormones and behavior (and social learning) can play a huge role in parental effects. There are cases when a hormone alone can’t trigger the right response, nor can a behavior, but the two together can.
    For example zebra fiches need progesterone when haching and testosterone in adulthood for the normal species specific song BUT they also need to hear their father’s song (or other conspecific) at the right time (better if they can also see the demonstrator).

  2. Interactions between hormones and behavior can play a role in parental effects. There are cases when a hormone alone can’t trigger the right response, neither can a behavior, but the two together are able to do so.
    For example zebra finches need progesterone when hatching (and testosterone later – progesterone prepares the developing brain to the testosterone later) for the normal species-specific song later BUT they also need to hear their father’s (or other conspecific) song at the right time (much better if they can also see them).

  3. I find that hormones exert a powerful modulatory effect on “parental effect”, In birds, mothers may pass down hormones in their eggs that affect an offspring’s growth and behaviour, nevertheless an experiments in domestic canaries have shown that eggs that contain more yolk androgens develop into chicks that display more social dominance, thus I believe that parental effects could be mediated by hormones.

  4. Yes. For example black-headed gulls lay their eggs one per day, in sequence. Before hatching, every egg should be incubated for the same time, if not, the chicks are hatching on different days. Chick competition occurs, the bigger, older chicks have advantage. Later eggs have more yolk testosterone, which is mediated by the female plasma prolactin levels. Higher testosterone levels help the younger chicks to “catch-up” to their older siblings, by making them more competitive, aggressive. (for example: Müller et al, 2004: Within-clutch patterns of yolk testosterone vary with onset of incubation in black headed gulls.)

  5. Based on the paper description, parental effects can be mediated from hormones-behavior interactions. I will consider taking an example from the paper; according to the authors, certain hormones (e.g, endogenous maternal yolk steroids) are capable for organizing the future behavior, affecting in this way the behavioral phenotype by acting on the nervous system during early development. Such organizational hormone effects could contribute to within-sex individual differences in behavior and it is possible also to affect the sexual differentiation process.

  6. I think it’s possible that the parental effects are mediated by the interaction of hormones and behaviors. For example the HVC nucleus in the brain of songbirds are affected by the endocrine system (estrogen and testosterone), but add to this juvenile birds also need to hear the song of their fathers (or other conspecific male) in order the gain a proper song repertoire. I think, if the hormonal background is insufficient, it would cause the nucleus development to decrease which would also influence the juveniles ability to learn the song.

    • This is exactly what I was thinking of.
      It is like if a plant has an allele that encode for tall height, but never has any sunlight or water, will it ever be able to grow tall?

  7. I think that an interaction could definitely play a role, since an interaction can be seen by a different effect of one predictor on the dependent variable, depending on the other predictor. For example, if a certain hormone is very low, the parental effects might also be low, irrespective of the behaviour. However, when this hormone level is higher, the behaviour might play a bigger role in the parental effects.

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