Research NewsEvolution

A New Look at Maternal Guidance

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Science  06 Sep 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5280, pp. 1334-1336
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5280.1334


Until relatively recently, the so-called maternal effects, which occur when something about the mother's environment alters how her offspring look, act, and function, were thought to be little more than random noise that made it difficult for researchers to interpret the results of their experiments. But new results suggest that by influencing an organism's ability to adapt, they may influence the course of evolution. And because maternal effects can also drive fluctuations in population size, they may need to be taken into account in efforts to protect endangered species and control insecinfestations.