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

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.


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

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