Maternal and cohort effects modulate offspring responses to multiple stressors

Gabriela Torres, David N. Thomas, Nia M. Whiteley, David Wilcockson, Luis Giménez

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Current concerns about climate change have led to intensive research attempting to understand how climate-driven stressors affect the performance of organisms, in particular the offspring of many invertebrates and fishes. Although stressors are likely to act on several stages of the life cycle, little is known about their action across life phases, for instance how multiple stressors experienced simultaneously in the maternal environment can modulate the responses to the same stressors operating in the offspring environment. Here, we study how performance of offspring of a marine invertebrate (shore crab Carcinus maenas) changes in response to two stressors (temperature and salinity) experienced during embryogenesis in brooding mothers from different seasons. On average, offspring responses were antagonistic: high temperature mitigated the negative effects of low salinity on survival. However, the magnitude of the response was modulated by the temperature and salinity conditions experienced by egg-carrying mothers. Performance also varied among cohorts, perhaps reflecting genetic variation, and/or maternal conditions prior to embryogenesis. This study contributes towards the understanding of how anthropogenic modification of the maternal environment drives offspring performance in brooders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20200492
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings. Biological sciences
Issue number1929
Early online date17 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2020


  • climate change
  • maternal effects
  • multiple stressors
  • offspring performance
  • salinity
  • temperature
  • Temperature
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Mothers
  • Life Cycle Stages
  • Salinity
  • Animals
  • Brachyura/physiology
  • Climate Change
  • Ecosystem
  • Female
  • Cohort Effect


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