Graduate Researcher: Starlie Belnap
Maternal influences on offspring occur not only during egg formation, but also during prenatal development in both birds and mammals. During incubation, avian females provide key elements essential for normal embryonic development, including appropriate temperature, movement (by means of egg turning), and light exposure. In this study, we are examining the influence of one maternally regulated factor, prenatal light exposure, on the development of social motivation/responsiveness in bobwhite quail chicks. During incubation, quail hens leave the nest intermittently during the day to find food and water; these bouts expose the developing embryo to intermittent prenatal light exposure. The study’s primary aim is to assess if the quantity or the distribution of prenatal light exposure can influence neonatal social motivation. Results from this study will help us to identify features of maternally derived prenatal experience that facilitate postnatal social motivation and advance our understanding of the conditions which foster normal social development.
The Influence of Maternally Regulated Light Experience on Neonatal Social Responsiveness