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Females Are More Affected By Sexual Conflicts Than Males, Study on Beetles Shows

Update Date: Apr 28, 2014 09:36 AM EDT

Sexual conflict over mating impacts the parental care behavior and reproductive productivity of burying beetles, according to a new study. 

Beetles were found to have surprisingly complex parental care, similar in form to that provided by birds like robins and blackbirds. According to research, both males and females provide parental care, however females are primary caregivers, similar to humans. So incase anything that affects the ability of females to provide parental care, it more likely reduces overall productivity, the research mentioned. 

The study used artificial selection and mating crosses among selection lines for determining if and how mating behavior co-evolved with parental care behaviors. 

Classical parental care theory suggests that males are expected to provide less care when offspring in a brood are less likely to be their own. However, previous research indicates that this is not always the case, and one reason for this could be because costs associated with behaviors during mating impact behaviors during parental care, read the press release.

"Our research shows that, despite selecting on a mating behavior that is known to increase male assurance of paternity, there was no correlated change in male parental care behavior. Instead, costs of mating in females appear to determine how patterns of parental care evolve in response to changes in mating behavior. In species with biparental care, such as burying beetles, most birds and humans, our results indicate that males are followers not leaders in the evolution of family life. It is how selection acts on females, not males, that really counts here."

The work has been published in the journal Ecology Letters. 

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