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Theor Popul Biol. 1992 Oct;42(2):117-29.

Survival enhancement through food sharing: a means for parental control of natal dispersal.

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  • 1Department of Zoology, University of Stockholm, Sweden.


The value of food sharing among relatives is analyzed for a situation where fitness equals survival. In seasonal environments the minimum food abundance may set a limit to group living. Delayed dispersal is predicted to be linked to relaxed winter competition and high parental survival. Enhanced survival for the offspring when parents share food could be a sufficient reason to delay dispersal, while early dispersal in advance of food shortage periods may be induced by a competitive relationship. At low resource abundance dominant parents do best by being competitive and retaining all resources. For food abundance higher than the expected requirements food sharing with independent offspring is possible, although it has a non-zero cost. Food sharing parents still retain most of resources to themselves, but the resource share given to subordinate offspring gradually gets larger when food abundance increases. Except for at very low food abundance, where subordinates may adopt a "suicidal" behaviour and cede their resources to the dominant, there is a conflict over how to share the resources.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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