Maternal effects of carotenoid supplementation in an ornamented cichlid fish

Alexandria C. Brown, Heather M. Leonard, Kevin McGraw, Ethan D. Clotfelter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Summary: Carotenoid-ornamented animals may transfer dietary carotenoid pigments to offspring as well as to their ornament and other competing physiological demands. If carotenoid supplementation increases offspring growth or survival, females should preferentially allocate supplemental carotenoids to offspring rather than ornamentation. We tested whether ornamented convict cichlid (Amatitlania siquia) mothers increase carotenoid allocation to eggs with access to dietary carotenoid supplementation, and whether beneficial maternal effects of carotenoid supplementation were transferred to offspring. Maternal effects of carotenoid supplementation were found; offspring from mothers that ate carotenoids benefited in terms of growth and survival parameters compared with offspring from non-supplemented mothers. Contrary to predictions, maternal coloration was not sacrificed for fecundity: mothers maintained their coloration and integument carotenoids even though increased carotenoids in the maternal diet benefited the offspring. Furthermore, carotenoid supplementation did not increase the carotenoids deposited in eggs. This work is the first to show that indirect maternal effects of carotenoid supplementation increased the survival and growth of offspring. Indirect benefits may reduce the cost of carotenoid allocation to offspring, but the mechanism for how carotenoids support offspring development is still unknown.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)612-620
Number of pages9
JournalFunctional Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Amatitlania siquia
  • Carotenoids
  • Diet
  • Dimorphism
  • Maternal effects
  • Offspring fitness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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