Current Understanding and Future Work on Maternal Effects in Mammals
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In mammals, gestation and lactation bind mothers to relatively long-term relationships with their offspring. A major goal of research on mammalian maternal care has been to answer the question, ‘what is the importance of mothers on offspring development?’ For a long time, researchers seeking answers to this question studied the costs and benefits of maternal investment, building on theoretical models developed by Trivers and colleagues (e.g., Trivers 1972; Trivers and Willard 1973). A paradigm that emerged from this work is that maternal investment in offspring is shaped by the costs and benefits of current and future investment in offspring and that females make trade-offs between the quantity and quality of investment based on their condition, the availability of critical resources, and the number of offspring under their care. A natural progression from this paradigm is to determine how different components of the mother-offspring relationship can shape the offspring phenotype, a...
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