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.

Related Articles


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 January 27, 2015 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 January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How To: Mixed Green Salad Topped With Camembert Cheese

How To: Mixed Green Salad Topped With Camembert Cheese

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) Learn how to make a mixed green salad topped with a pan-seared camembert cheese in only a minute! Music: Courtesy of Audio Network. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) Scientists are preparing a group of water fleas for a unique voyage into space. The aquatic crustaceans, known as Daphnia, can be used as a miniature model for biomedical research, and their reproductive and swimming behaviour will be tested for signs of stress while on board the International Space Station. Jim Drury went to meet the team. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Husky Puppy Plays With Ferret

Husky Puppy Plays With Ferret

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) It looks like this 2-month-old Husky puppy and the family ferret are going to be the best of friends. Look at how much fun they&apos;re having together! Credit to &apos;Vira&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Model Flying, Walking Drone After Vampire Bats

Scientists Model Flying, Walking Drone After Vampire Bats

Buzz60 (Jan. 26, 2015) Swiss scientists build a new drone that can both fly and walk, modeling it after the movements of common vampire bats. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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