Role Of Maternal Behavior In Offspring Development

Recent interest in maternal behavior has focused on the role played by maternal behavior in the development of offspring responses. Mothers teach offspring about food acquisition and associated skills (e.g., hunting). However, offspring also learn about social interactions from their mothers, acquiring sexual preferences and social status, and learning species-specific social cues and signals. Cultural transmission of environmental information from mother to young also occurs (from shelter and water locations in hefted hill sheep to tool use in chimpanzees). Variation in the expression of maternal behavior, or its absence, can have a profound effect on the development of stress-coping behaviors in the offspring as adults, and can influence their reactivity to the environment.[4] Under domestication, this process is often disrupted or entirely prevented by early weaning of offspring (e.g., dairy calves, pigs) or by artificial incubation and rearing in same-age groups (e.g., chickens).

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