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Like mother, like offspring: maternal and offspring wound healing correlate in snakes
Immune function early in life can be influenced by parental effects and the environment, but it remains unclear how these two factors may interact to influence immunocompetence. We evaluated maternal and environmental contributions to offspring healing ability in a viviparous reptile, the northern watersnake (Nerodia sipedon). We measured wound healing rates, a highly integrative and biologically relevant measure of innate immunity, of females and their offspring collected from sites contaminated with a toxic heavy metal and compared them with those of individuals from reference sites. We found that female watersnakes that healed the fastest produced offspring that also exhibited faster healing rates. However, we detected no influence of environmental pollution on maternal or offspring healing rates. To our knowledge, our study is the first to correlate maternal and offspring wound healing ability in a wild vertebrate.