Navigation Links
Parents show bias in sibling rivalry, says study
Date:12/19/2007

Most parents would hotly deny favouring one child over another but new research suggests they may have little choice in the matter.

Biologists studying a unique species of beetle that raises and cares for its young have found that parents instinctively favour the oldest offspring.

The University of Manchester research published in Ecology this month supports the findings of studies carried out on human families but is significant in that it suggests a wholly natural tendency towards older siblings.

The burying beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides has a similar family structure to that of a human family unit in that there are two parents, a number of offspring and interactions between parents and their young, said Dr Per Smiseth, who led the research in the Universitys Faculty of Life Sciences.

Of course human families are more complex and parent-child relationships are much more sophisticated. However, studying this beetle can help us understand the basic biological principles of how family relationships work.

Our study looked at how the parent beetles mediate competition between different aged offspring compared to what happens when the young were left to fend for themselves and indicates that parental decisions are important in determining the outcome of competition between offspring.

The beetles, which are native to Britain, give birth to a batch of about 20 young in the carcass of a dead animal over a period of 30 hours. The parents feed the young grubs on regurgitated flesh from the carcass.

The young beetles are able to feed themselves but they grow more quickly and become larger when fed by their parents. By generating experimental broods comprising two sets of offspring, one set of older grubs and one younger set, the scientists were able to study their development, first with the parents present and then when left to fend for themselves.

When both sets of grubs were left to fend for themselves they grew at the same rate and matured to an equal size, said Dr Smiseth, whose research is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and the Medical Research Council.

However, when we allow the parents to remain with the offspring, there is clear favouritism towards the older siblings, which grow at a faster rate as they take the lions share of their parents offerings.

The team believes there are two explanations for the behaviour: the first is that the parents attach more value to the older offspring as their maturity gives them a better chance of survival than their younger siblings.

The second explanation is that the older grubs, being stronger, are able to dominate their younger rivals and, in doing so, better attract the attention of the parents when begging for food.

Even if this second theory is true, the parents are still complicit in the bias towards the older siblings, said Dr Smiseth. However, the true answer is probably some combination of the two explanations.

The research tells us something about the relationships within families. We have this view that families are harmonious and that the overriding concern is to help one another. This is true to an extent but its not to say that families are not without conflict, especially if the resources cannot be divided equitably.


'/>"/>

Contact: Aeron Haworth
aeron.haworth@manchester.ac.uk
44-161-275-8383
University of Manchester  
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Informational handout key to giving parents a better understanding of CT radiation risks
2. Many Parents Share Genetic Test Findings With Kids
3. Giving CPR Kits to Kids Nudges Parents to Learn
4. Psoriasis Cure Now offers Back to School Resources for Parents of Children with Psoriasis
5. Adult offspring of parents with PTSD have lower cortisol levels
6. Parents perceptions can hamper kids asthma care, study finds
7. Parents Worries Hamper Kids Asthma Treatment
8. Parents PTSD May Boost Stress in Offspring
9. UCLA/RAND study shows that many children of HIV-positive parents are not in their custody
10. Survey From The Partnership and MetLife Foundation Reveals Important Role Todays Grandparents Play in Teens Lives
11. Tips for Parents: Teaching Children to Resolve Conflicts
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Parents show bias in sibling rivalry, says study
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... June 19, 2016 is ... associated with chronic pain and the benefits of holistic treatments, Serenity Recovery Center ... suffering with Sickle Cell Disease. , Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a disorder of ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Global law firm Greenberg Traurig, P.A. announced that ... chosen by their peers for this recognition are considered among the top 2 percent ... special honors as members of this year’s Legal Elite Hall of Fame: Miami ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... BioMedics, Inc, makers of Topricin and MyPainAway Pain Relief Products, join The ‘Business for a ... an hour by 2020 and then adjusting it yearly to increase at the same rate ... assure the wage floor does not erode again, and make future increases more predictable. , ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... The Haute Beauty Network, affiliated ... Weintraub as a prominent plastic surgeon and the network’s newest partner. , ... most handsome men, look naturally attractive. Plastic surgery should be invisible.” He stands ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... National recruitment firm Slone Partners is pleased to announce the placement of ... President of North American Capital Sales at HTG Molecular . , ... the commercialization of the HTG EdgeSeq system and associated reagents in North America. , ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Capricor Therapeutics, ... a biotechnology company focused on the discovery, development ... patient enrollment in its ongoing randomized HOPE-Duchenne clinical ... 50% of its 24-patient target. Capricor expects the ... quarter of 2016, and to report top line ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , , , WHEN: , , ... , , , LOCATION: , , , Online, with free registration ... PANELISTS:  , , , Frost & Sullivan,s Global Vice President of ... Analyst, Divyaa Ravishankar and Unmesh Lal, Program Manager , ... witnessing an exceptional era. Several new demand spaces, such as innovative ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Revolutionary technology includes multi-speaker listening ... industry leaders in advanced audiology and hearing aid technology, ... ™, the world,s first internet connected hearing aid that ...      (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160622/382240 ) , ... ,world firsts,: , TwinLink™ - the first ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: