A main achievement of this project has been to develop the burying beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides as an important model system for addressing key questions concerning parent-offspring communication and its role in the resolution of parent-offspring conflict that cannot be addressed in birds. Key findings include evidence showing that, as predicted by theory, offspring begging reflects offspring needs, and that parents respond to begging. The project has also provided evidence suggesting that begging is modulated by juvenile hormone, and that begging incur no significant energy costs to offspring. Finally, the project has provided evidence for a heritable basis to hatching patterns.
Another main achievement has been to explore the different approaches to the evolution of parent-offspring communication taken by behavioural ecologists and quantitative geneticists. The project proposes that a behavioural reaction norms approach provides a means for integrating insights from the two fields.