Complex effects of inbreeding on biparental cooperation

Sarah N. Mattey, Per T. Smiseth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

There is mounting evidence that inbreeding can have detrimental effects on the fitness of outbred individuals that interact with or depend on inbred individuals. However, little is currently known about the behavioral mechanisms by which interactions with inbred individuals induce fitness costs in outbred individuals. Here, we study effects of inbreeding on the behavioral dynamics of biparental
cooperation in the burying beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides. To this end, we used a two-by-two factorial design, in which an inbred or outbred female was mated to an inbred or an outbred male and tested for effects on cooperation between male and female parents providing care for their joint offspring. We found no evidence that inbred parents provided less care than outbred parents. Nevertheless, partners of inbred parents increased the amount of care they provided, leading to overcompensation. Our study shows that inbreeding
can have strong and complex effects on the behavioral dynamics of biparental cooperation and that these effects are mediated mainly through changes in the partner’s behavior. We suggest that similar effects of inbreeding on outbred individuals may extend to other social contexts, such as cooperative breeding and mating.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalThe American Naturalist
Issue number1
Early online date3 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2015

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • biparental care
  • burying beetle
  • cooperation
  • inbreeding
  • indirect genetic effects
  • Nicrophorus vespilloides
  • parental care


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