Evolution of parental care driven by mutual reinforcement of parental food provisioning and sibling competition

Andy Gardner, Per T. Smiseth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In mammals, altricial birds and some invertebrates, parents care for their offspring by providing them with food and protection until independence. Although parental food provisioning is often essential for offspring survival and growth, very little is known about the conditions favouring the evolutionary innovation of this key component of care. Here, we develop a mathematical model for the evolution of parental food provisioning. We find that this evolutionary innovation is favoured when the efficiency of parental food provisioning is high relative to the efficiency of offspring self-feeding and/or parental guarding. We also explore the coevolution between food provisioning and other components of parental care, as well as offspring behaviour. We find that the evolution of food provisioning prompts evolutionary changes in other components of care by allowing parents to choose safer nest sites, and that it promotes the evolution of sibling competition, which in turn further drives the evolution of parental food provisioning. This mutual reinforcement of parental care and sibling competition suggests that evolution of parental food provisioning should show a unidirectional trend from no parental food provisioning to full parental food provisioning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-203
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences
Volume278
Issue number1703
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2011

Keywords

  • coevolution
  • environmental conditions
  • kin selection
  • nest site selection
  • parental feeding
  • parent-offspring interactions
  • OFFSPRING SOLICITATION
  • PREDATION
  • SELECTION
  • CONFLICT
  • BEHAVIOR
  • BIRDS
  • MODEL
  • COADAPTATION
  • PERSPECTIVE
  • SUCCESS

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