Maternal condition determines offspring behavior toward family members in the European earwig

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid

Abstract

Parental care confers benefits to juveniles but is usually associated with substantial costs for parents. These costs often depend on parental condition, which is thus considered as a key determinant of the level of parental care expressed during family life. However, how parental condition affects the behaviors that juveniles express toward their siblings and parents remains poorly explored. Here, we investigated these questions in the European earwig Forficula auricularia, an insect in which mothers provide extensive forms of care to their juveniles. We measured maternal body condition at egg hatching, subsequently manipulated maternal nutritional state, and finally assessed both food transfer among siblings and the nature of mother–offspring interactions. We also considered variation in brood size, an important parameter in family interactions. We found that food transfer among siblings increased with brood size when the tending mothers were in a deteriorated nutritional state. This effect was masked when the nutritional state of mothers was enhanced. The frequency of care-related behaviors that juveniles expressed toward their mother was higher when she was in a deteriorated rather than an enhanced nutritional state, while it overall increased with brood size. Finally, increasing values of maternal body condition entailed a shift from a positive to a negative association between maternal care behaviors and brood size, but only when the mothers’ nutritional state was deteriorated. Overall, our results demonstrate that parental condition and brood size do not only affect parental behaviors but can also be important and entangled drivers of offspring behaviors during family life.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles