Title

A good day to die: bridging the gap between costs and benefits of parental care

Keywords

burying beetle, parental care, reproduction, timing of death

Abstract

In species that provide parental care, offspring survival is often completely dependent on protection and resources afforded by the parents. Therefore, parents gain no fitness unless they raise offspring to a critical point of independence. In these species, selection should shape parental life history to increase their chances of surviving to this critical point. We test this hypothesis using females of two species of burying beetles, Nicrophorus orbicollis and N. marginatus. Burying beetles breed on small, vertebrate carcasses, and reproduction can be divided into two stages: carcass preparation and larva provisioning. Females were allowed to reproduce repeatedly until they died, and the stage in which each female died was recorded. Most females died while waiting for another carcass for their next reproductive bout or during carcass preparation, which indicates that females may have a physiological mechanism that allows them to delay death until their final brood is independent of parental care.

Original Publication Citation

Smith, A.N., J.C. Creighton, and M.C. Belk. 2016. A good day to die: bridging the gap between costs and benefits of parental care. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 70:1397-1401.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

2016-05-16

Publisher

Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

Language

English

College

Life Sciences

Department

Biology

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor

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