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Sexual conflict affects females more than males, says new research on beetles
Date:4/27/2014

Researchers at the University of Exeter have found that sexual conflict over mating impacts the parental care behaviour 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 behaviours co-evolve with parental care behaviours.

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 behaviours during mating impact behaviours 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 behaviour led to a correlated, co-evolutionary response in parental care behaviour.

Male parental care behaviour 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 fem
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Contact: Eleanor Gaskarth
e.f.gaskarth@exeter.ac.uk
44-782-730-9332
University of Exeter
Source:Eurekalert  

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