A study conducted on banded mongooses has revealed that those who work hard to care for pups could be less likely to invest in future offspring in the same way due to elevated stress hormones.
Dr Jennifer Sanderson, from the University of Exeter, has been observing wild banded mongooses to understand why working hard makes them less likely to work hard in the future.
She discovered that when a banded mongoose invests heavily to care for mongoose pups, it experiences an increase in circulating stress hormones (or 'glucocorticoids'), and these high stress levels inhibit similar investment in the future. The findings of the study are published today in the British Ecological Society's journal Functional Ecology
When something you do now affects what you do in the future, scientists call it a 'carry-over effect'. Such carry-over effects are widespread in animal populations, but this NERC-funded study is the first to investigate the hormonal mechanism underlying behavioural carry-over effects.