Maternal effects and environmental change
Maternal effects are influences of the maternal phenotype on offspring phenotypes by routes other than direct genetic transmission. Potentially they provide an additional means of adaptation to changing environmental conditions over and above that afforded by within-generation phenotypic plasticity. However, maternal effects have also been implicated in the risks of heart disease, diabetes and obesity. I will show how mathematical modelling can provide insight into the interaction of maternal effects and phenotypic plasticity under different patterns of environmental change and suggest when maternal effects might be expected to evolve and why.