Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why sticking around is sometimes the better choice for males

Date:
March 26, 2013
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Researchers have been able to provide one answer as to why males in many species still provide paternal care, even when their offspring may not belong to them. The study finds that, when the conditions are right, sticking around despite being "cuckolded" actually turns out to be the most successful evolutionary strategy.

Researchers from Lund University and the University of Oxford have been able to provide one answer as to why males in many species still provide paternal care, even when their offspring may not belong to them. The study finds that, when the conditions are right, sticking around despite being 'cuckolded' actually turns out to be the most successful evolutionary strategy.

The study, by Charlie Cornwallis and colleagues, is published 26 March in the open access journal PLOS Biology.

In many species, males put a lot of effort into caring for offspring that are not their own. At first glance this makes little sense, because natural selection should dictate that males only care for the offspring that carry their genes. However, this study suggests that the males are both more tolerant and more astute than previously assumed, and in fact adjust their care according to how likely it is that females are unfaithful, whilst also judging whether caring will potentially reduce the number of offspring they can have in the future.

The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 62 studies across 48 different species including insects, fish, birds and mammals. Overall, the researchers found that promiscuous copulations by females reduced the investment of males by 12%. Although parental care is highly variable across these species, the researchers were able to find a general explanation for why sticking around to care for the offspring is the better choice for some males that have been usurped. The reason is that males tend to be more accepting of offspring fathered by other males in species where the risk of cuckoldry is generally low, or when caring does not harm their future reproductive success.

"This, to me, shows the strength of natural selection, with its footprints clear in species from burying beetles -- which care for young over a few weeks by regurgitating dead mice -- to humans, who spend years providing for their children," says Charlie Cornwallis, researcher at the Department of Biology, Lund University. "These are complex calculations that males are making," he adds, "and it has been difficult to measure the relevant factors correctly, but looking across species has helped us work out what is going on. Moreover, a comparative study like this can guide researchers to the types of species and experimental cues that are likely to provide the most insight into paternal care in the future."

The study therefore opens up the possibility of more targeted research in the area. Now that the researchers know what factors are important, they can design studies to further test their findings and predict what males will do in species that have not yet been studied. For example, in species where the cost of caring is very low, males would not be expected to adjust their level of parental care even if the females are promiscuous. Rather than these males being 'duped', such tolerance has actually been favoured by natural selection.


Story Source:

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. Ashleigh S. Griffin, Suzanne H. Alonzo, Charlie K. Cornwallis. Why Do Cuckolded Males Provide Paternal Care? PLoS Biology, 2013; 11 (3): e1001520 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001520

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Why sticking around is sometimes the better choice for males." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130326194100.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2013, March 26). Why sticking around is sometimes the better choice for males. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130326194100.htm
Public Library of Science. "Why sticking around is sometimes the better choice for males." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130326194100.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins