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Am Nat. 2004 Oct;164(4):517-30. Epub 2004 Sep 1.

The evolution of paternal care with overlapping broods.

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Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, United Kingdom.


Most attempts to model the evolution of parental care assume that caring and mating are mutually exclusive activities (i.e., individuals acquire and guard broods "sequentially"). However, in most fish and certain insects, males can keep mating and collecting additional eggs while continuing to guard broods obtained earlier (i.e., males guard "overlapping" broods). We present a model of parental care with overlapping broods in which males can mate and guard simultaneously, even though there is a trade-off between these two activities. Within this framework, we show that male care is favored by short female processing times and high population densities, which minimize the mating cost of care. Relatively low mortality while guarding is also important for the stability of male care. Female care, on the other hand, is favored by long female processing times and low populations densities, which lead to longer intermating intervals. Biparental care is stable only when the cost to benefit ratio of care was not biased toward either sex. We derive quantitative estimates of fitness for different strategies for two species of assassin bugs with male and female uniparental care and show that the model predicts the correct form of care for both species. We believe our model might help explain the prevalence of male uniparental care in certain taxa, such as fish.

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