Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sexual conflict affects females more than males, says new research on beetles

Date:
April 27, 2014
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
Sexual conflict over mating impacts the parental care behavior and reproductive productivity of burying beetles, new research shows. These beetles have surprisingly complex parental care, similar in form to that provided by birds such as robins or blackbirds, with offspring begging to be fed by touching parents, who respond by regurgitating partially digested food. Both males and females provide parental care, but females are the primary care givers, as in humans. So anything that affects the ability of females to provide parental care, such as costly mating, is likely to reduce overall reproductive productivity.

Researchers at the University of Exeter have found that sexual conflict over mating impacts the parental care behavior and reproductive productivity of burying beetles.
Credit: Jena Johnson

Researchers at the University of Exeter have found that sexual conflict over mating impacts the parental care behavior and reproductive productivity of burying beetles.

These beetles have surprisingly complex parental care, similar in form to that provided by birds such as robins or blackbirds, with offspring begging to be fed by touching parents, who respond by regurgitating partially digested food.

Both males and females provide parental care, but females are the primary care givers, as in humans. So anything that affects the ability of females to provide parental care, such as costly mating, is likely to reduce overall reproductive productivity.

New work published today in the journal Ecology Letters, used artificial selection and mating crosses among selection lines to determine if and how mating behaviors co-evolve with parental care behaviors.

Classical parental care theory suggests that males are expected to provide less care when offspring in a brood are less likely to be their own. However, previous research indicates that this is not always the case, and one reason for this could be because costs associated with behaviors during mating impact behaviors during parental care.

The study tested this idea by artificially selecting burying beetles for either high or low mating rate (a paternity assurance trait) for 7 generations. Patterns of parental care and productivity of different combinations of male-female pairs from the same or different selection lines were then examined to see whether selection on mating behavior led to a correlated, co-evolutionary response in parental care behavior.

Male parental care behavior did not change in response to selection on mating rate, but females responded to selection for high mating rates with a reduction in parental care. Productivity of pairs with females from lines selected for high mating rate was lower than that for pairs where females were from lines selected for low mating rate due to costs of mating for females and because males did not compensate for changes in female behavior.

Dr Nick Royle, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter, said: "Our research shows that, despite selecting on a mating behavior that is known to increase male assurance of paternity, there was no correlated change in male parental care behavior. Instead, costs of mating in females appear to determine how patterns of parental care evolve in response to changes in mating behavior. In species with biparental care, such as burying beetles, most birds and humans, our results indicate that males are followers not leaders in the evolution of family life. It is how selection acts on females, not males, that really counts here."

The results of the study are contrary to classical parental care theory and instead support the idea that sexual conflict is more important than parentage in determining patterns of parental care.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Megan L. Head, Camilla A. Hinde, Allen J. Moore, Nick J. Royle. Correlated evolution in parental care in females but not males in response to selection on paternity assurance behaviour. Ecology Letters, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/ele.12284

Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "Sexual conflict affects females more than males, says new research on beetles." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140427191304.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2014, April 27). Sexual conflict affects females more than males, says new research on beetles. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140427191304.htm
University of Exeter. "Sexual conflict affects females more than males, says new research on beetles." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140427191304.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

AP (July 30, 2014) River otters were hitting the water slides to beat the summer heatwave on Wednesday at Ichikawa City's Zoological and Botanical Garden. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

AP (July 29, 2014) Food scraps and other items left on the grounds by picnickers brings unwelcome visitors to the grounds of the world famous and popular Louvre Museum in Paris. (July 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jane Goodall Warns Great Apes Face Extinction

Jane Goodall Warns Great Apes Face Extinction

AFP (July 29, 2014) The world's great apes face extinction within decades, renowned chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall warned Tuesday in a call to arms to ensure man's closest relatives are not wiped out. Duration: 00:58 Video provided by AFP
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