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Anim Behav. 2000 Nov;60(5):559-567.

Sexual selection and the evolution of exclusive paternal care in arthropods.

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Delaware Agricultural Experiment Station, Department of Entomology and Applied Ecology, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Delaware


Internal fertilization and anisogamy are thought to impede the evolution of exclusive paternal care by reducing paternity assurance and increasing male promiscuity. The potential role of sexual selection in easing these constraints is currently being examined in vertebrates but has not been seriously studied in most arthropods. To distinguish the effects of sexual from natural selection on the evolution of arthropod paternal care, I tested predictions of the state of several life history and behavioural traits under both forms of selection across all known taxa with exclusive paternal care. The results suggest parallels between prezygotic nuptial gifts and exclusive postzygotic paternal care and support the hypothesis that, in arthropods, male behaviours that enhance female reproductive success either directly by releasing females from the fecundity constraints of maternal care (enhanced fecundity hypothesis) or indirectly by identifying mates with superior genes (handicap principle) are traits on which sexual selection has acted. Under such conditions males willing to guard young become preferred mates for gravid females and enjoy greater promiscuity than males unable or unwilling to guard. Females use nest construction or the act of guarding another female's eggs as honest signals of paternal intent and quality.


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