Ecological stressors such as predation can shape ecosystems, driving prey population and community dynamics through indirect, non-consumptive effects that may cascade across generations through parental effects. I show that predation risk in a wild mammal (the snowshoe hare) can have lethal inter-generational effects. I explore potential hormonal mechanisms for such effects using a different system, the eastern fence lizard, and demonstrate that short term elevations of glucocorticoid hormones at the level of a predator encounter can induce similar effects on adult survival and reproductive success. I will also discuss the importance of considering the ecological context in which maternal effects occur for determining their evolutionary importance across species and taxa.
Dr Kirsty MacLeod is a Marie Skłodowska Curie Action (MSCA) Research Fellow at Lund University, Sweden, exploring the inter-generational consequences of stress exposure during gestation in reptiles, and the importance of the social environment in mitigating these effects. She is also interested in science communication and hosts The Women in Ecology and Evolution Podcast!