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Single daddy longlegs dads caring for eggs suffer no disadvantages despite parenting costs

Date:
October 10, 2012
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Exclusive paternal care is associated with mating benefits and lower mortality risk in daddy longlegs, a new study finds.
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Caring male (bottom) and female (top) of the harvestman Iporangaia pustulosa interact on an egg clutch.
Credit: Dr. Gustavo Requena

Single fatherhood is a challenge many arachnids undertake, guarding eggs laid by females despite the costs to their own health and mating benefits, but the news may not be all bad for these dads.

New research now shows that, in one species of arachnids, males exclusively responsible for guarding eggs actually enjoy survival benefits rather than suffer losses to health or mating privileges. The study, published Oct. 10 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Gustavo Santos Requena and colleagues from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, evaluates the costs and benefits of exclusive paternal care, the rarest form of parental investment in nature, in the harvestman Iporangaia pustulosa. The harvestman, like the spider, is an arachnid and is sometimes called daddy longlegs. (For more information, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opiliones).

The researchers tracked the harvestman in the forests of southeastern Brazil over the course of a year to observe how caring behavior in males affected their chances of survival or body condition. Though caring males feed very rarely and lose body condition while guarding eggs, the authors found that these animals suffered no long-term decrease in fitness compared to females or non-caring males. Their sedentary behavior during the caring period also makes them less likely to be eaten by predators, reducing their mortality risk. The authors also suggest that providing females cost-free care for their offspring might make caring males more attractive to females, thereby improving their chances for reproductive success.

According to the authors, their results suggest that the reduction in mortality risk, combined with the genetic advantages of improving survival of their offspring, may have played important roles in favoring the evolution of paternal care in these arachnids.


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The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Requena GS, Buzatto BA, Martins EG, Machado G. Paternal Care Decreases Foraging Activity and Body Condition, but Does Not Impose Survival Costs to Caring Males in a Neotropical Arachnid. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7(10): e46701 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046701

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Single daddy longlegs dads caring for eggs suffer no disadvantages despite parenting costs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121010172118.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2012, October 10). Single daddy longlegs dads caring for eggs suffer no disadvantages despite parenting costs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121010172118.htm
Public Library of Science. "Single daddy longlegs dads caring for eggs suffer no disadvantages despite parenting costs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121010172118.htm (accessed May 23, 2015).

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