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Integration of ontogenetic environmental information within and across generations in a cooperative breeder

Applicant Taborsky Barbara
Number 156881
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Ethologische Station Hasli Institut für Ökologie und Evolution Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Zoology
Start/End 01.04.2015 - 31.05.2018
Approved amount 426'588.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Zoology
Ecology

Keywords (10)

cooperative breeding; cichlids; gene expression; evolutionary ecology; developmental plasticity; social behaviour; parental effects; fish; ontogeny; life history

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Von zahlreichen Studien ist bekannt, dass die frühe Umwelt dauerhafte, oft lebenslange Effekte auf die Entwicklung von tierischem Verhalten und Lebensgeschichtsmerkmalen haben kann. Diese Studien untersuchen jedoch in den allermeisten Fällen den Effekt nur eines Umweltfaktors zu nur einem Zeitpunkt. Wir wissen jedoch, das die natürliche Umwelt, an die Tiere angepasst sind, sehr viel komplexer ist und Umwelteinflüsse zu verschiedenen Zeitpunkten (Eistadium, postnatale Umwelt, Adoleszenz) Einfluss auf tiereisches Verhalten zeigen kann. Dieses Projekt soll daher untersuchen, wie Tiere frühe Umwelteinflüsse von verschiedenen Faktoren und zu verschiedenen Zeitpunkten in ihrer Entwickung integrieren.
Lay summary

Der hochsoziale, kooperativ-brütende Buntbarsch Neolamprologus pulcher ist hervorragend geeignet um diese Fragestellung zu untersuchen, da unser vorhergehedes Projekt gezeigt hat, dass diese Fische eine Kombination von Umweltfaktoren einbeziehen, wenn sie entscheiden ob sie eher versuchen eine eigene Gruppe zu gründen und sich selber fortzupflanzen, oder ob sie in ihrer natalen Gruppe bleiben und dort helfen die Nachkommen des dominanten Brutpaars aufzuziehen. Dieses Projekt hat nun zwei Hauptziele. (i) Wir wollen die relative Bedeutung des Einflusses verschiedener Umweltfaktoren während verschiedener Entwicklungsphasen auf den späteren Phänotyp der Fische untersuchen. Hierbei wollen wir und speziell auf maternale Effekte auf das Eistadium, das frühe postnatale Stadium und das Stadium kurz vor der Geschlechtsreife konzentrieren. (ii) Wir wollen untersuchen in wieweit Früherfahrung den Fortpflanzungserfolg der Adulten beieinflussen wird und vor allem, ob Früherfahrungseffekte auch in den nachfolgenden Generationen nachweisbar sind, zB mittels epigenetischer Vererbung. Dies wollen wir zum einen mittels Vergleichen zwischen den Generation von Verhalten in standardisierten Tests untersuchen und zum anderen mittels epigenomischer Analysen.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 19.02.2015

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Evolutionary conserved neural signature of early life stress affects animal social competence
Nyman Cecilia, Fischer Stefan, Aubin-Horth Nadia, Taborsky Barbara (2018), Evolutionary conserved neural signature of early life stress affects animal social competence, in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 285(1871), 20172344-20172344.
Divergence of developmental trajectories is triggered interactively by early social and ecological experience in a cooperative breeder
Fischer Stefan, Bohn Lena, Oberhummer Evelyne, Nyman Cecilia, Taborsky Barbara (2017), Divergence of developmental trajectories is triggered interactively by early social and ecological experience in a cooperative breeder, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(44), E9300-E9307.
Early experience affects learning performance and neophobia in a cooperatively breeding cichlid
Bannier Francis, Tebbich Sabine, Taborsky Barbara (2017), Early experience affects learning performance and neophobia in a cooperatively breeding cichlid, in Ethology, 123(10), 712-723.
Smell or vision? The use of different sensory modalities in predator discrimination
Fischer Stefan, Oberhummer Evelyne, Cunha-Saraiva Filipa, Gerber Nina, Taborsky Barbara (2017), Smell or vision? The use of different sensory modalities in predator discrimination, in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 71(10), 143-143.
Genetics and developmental biology of cooperation
Kasper Claudia, Vierbuchen Maddalena, Ernst Ulrich, Fischer Stefan, Radersma Reinder, Raulo Aura, Cunha-Saraiva Filipa, Wu Min, Mobley Kenyon B., Taborsky Barbara (2017), Genetics and developmental biology of cooperation, in Molecular Ecology, 26(17), 4364-4377.
Consistent cooperation in a cichlid fish is caused by maternal and developmental effects rather than heritable genetic variation
Kasper Claudia, Kölliker Mathias, Postma Erik, Taborsky Barbara (2017), Consistent cooperation in a cichlid fish is caused by maternal and developmental effects rather than heritable genetic variation, in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 284(1858), 20170369-20170369.
Effect of the early social environment on behavioural and genomic responses to a social challenge in a cooperatively breeding vertebrate
Nyman Cecilia, Fischer Stefan, Aubin-Horth Nadia, Taborsky Barbara (2017), Effect of the early social environment on behavioural and genomic responses to a social challenge in a cooperatively breeding vertebrate, in Molecular Ecology, 26(12), 3186-3203.
Opening the Black Box of Developmental Experiments: Behavioural Mechanisms Underlying Long-Term Effects of Early Social Experience
Taborsky Barbara (2016), Opening the Black Box of Developmental Experiments: Behavioural Mechanisms Underlying Long-Term Effects of Early Social Experience, in Ethology, 122(4), 267-283.
Territorial aggression reduces vigilance but increases aggression towards predators in a cooperatively breeding fish
Hess Sybille, Fischer Stefan, Taborsky Barbara (2016), Territorial aggression reduces vigilance but increases aggression towards predators in a cooperatively breeding fish, in Animal Behaviour, 113, 229-235.
Evolution of genetic and physiological mechanisms of cooperative behaviour
Taborsky Michael, Taborsky Barbara (2015), Evolution of genetic and physiological mechanisms of cooperative behaviour, in Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 6, 132-138.
Rearing-Group Size Determines Social Competence and Brain Structure in a Cooperatively Breeding Cichlid
Taborsky Barbara, Fischer Stefan, Bessert-Nettelbeck Mathilde, Kotrschal Alexander (2015), Rearing-Group Size Determines Social Competence and Brain Structure in a Cooperatively Breeding Cichlid, in The American Naturalist , 186(1), 123-140.
Introducing biological realism into the study of developmental plasticity in behaviour
Taborsky Barbara, Groothuis T.G.G. (2015), Introducing biological realism into the study of developmental plasticity in behaviour, in Frontiers in Zoologie, 12, 6.
Developmental Plasticity: Preparing for Life in a Complex World
Taborsky Barbara, Developmental Plasticity: Preparing for Life in a Complex World, in Advances in the Study of Behavior, 49, 1-42.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Prof. Dr. Mikko Heino, Univesität Bergen Norway (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Dany Sinyinza, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative, Fisheries Dept., Mpulungu Zambia (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Prof. Dr. Nadia Aubin-Horth, Université Laval, Quebec Canada (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel
Dr. Shinichi Nakagawa, University of Otago New Zealand (Oceania)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
PD Ulf Dieckmann, IIASA Austria (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Dr. Harris Phiri, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative, Fisheries Dept., Lusaka Zambia (Africa)
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events



Self-organised

Title Date Place
Early-environment effects: Towards integrating theoretical and empirical approaches 18.07.2017 Arolla, Switzerland

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
179208 An integrative approach to study ultimate and proximate causes of developmental plasticity and behavioural flexibility 01.06.2018 Project funding
133066 Developmental plasticity of social behaviour: fitness effects, molecular and physiological mechanisms 01.11.2010 Project funding
137196 Genetic basis of cooperative behaviour in a vertebrate model 01.10.2012 ProDoc

Abstract

There is ample evidence showing that early life conditions can have persistent, often life-long, effects on the phenotypic development of animals, and that effects of the early environment can be carried over to successive generations, for example via non-genetic parental effects. Most of this research focused only on a single environmental dimension or on a single ontogenetic period. However, natural environments are usually multi-dimensional and complex, which requires an integrative research incorporating multiple ecological factors and multiple ontogenetic stages, if we aim to understand the development of well-integrated adult phenotypes. The highly social cichlid Neolamprologus pulcher is a unique model system to study the development of integrated phenotypes, because it uses environmental cues to specialize on one of two life history strategies during ontogeny, namely early own reproduction or delayed dispersal to help rearing young of dominant breeders. N. pulcher is an intensively studied vertebrate model system for studies of social evolution and is exceptionally well amenable to experiments in the field and in the laboratory under semi-natural conditions. The first aim of this project is to investigate the relative significance of four important environmental influences, maternal effects on eggs, brood care, the early juvenile and the late juvenile environment, for the development of helping and dispersal propensities of N. pulcher. As second aim, I will investigate whether the early environment influences adult life histories and reproductive performance, and whether it impacts the phenotypes of successive generations through epigenetic inheritance. By targeted laboratory experiments and field studies, I will investigate the molecular basis of plastic responses, the epigenetic mechanisms of differential gene expression, the involved ecological factors driving plastic responses, and their ultimate fitness effects. Furthermore I will perform a general meta-analysis to compare the relative effects of maternal effects and direct early-life experience on organismal performance. Both, the integration of environmental information across ontogenetic stages and long-term effects of early social experience within and across generations (i) will enhance our understanding of basic processes of vertebrate phenotypic development and (ii) it will add a so far largely missing developmental perspective to the debates on ecological causes of social strategies in cooperative breeders.
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