Social role specialization promotes cooperation between parents

Zoltán Barta, Tamás Székely, András Liker, Freya Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Biparental care of offspring is a widespread social behavior, and various ecological, life-history, and demographic factors have been proposed to explain its evolution and maintenance. Raising offspring generally requires several types of care (e.g., feeding, brooding, and defense), and males and females often specialize in providing different types of care. However, theoretical models of care often assume that care is a single variable and hence that a unit of care by the mother is interchangeable with a unit of care by the father. We hypothesize that the ability of one parent to provide all types of care may be limited by nonadditive costs or by sex-based asymmetries in the costs of particular care types. Using an individual-based simulation, we show that synergistic costs of investing in two tasks or negligible sex-based cost asymmetries select for task specialization and biparental care. Biparental care persists despite intense sexual selection and sex-biased mortality, suggesting that previous models make overly restrictive predictions of the conditions under which cooperation can be maintained. Our model provides a mechanistic underpinning for published models that show that the synergistic benefits of individuals cooperating can stabilize cooperation, both in the context of parental care and in other social scenarios.

LanguageEnglish
Pages747-761
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Volume183
Issue number6
DOIs
StatusPublished - 2014

Fingerprint

parental care
gender
cost
asymmetry
mechanistic models
fathers
social behavior
sexual selection
demographic statistics
life history
prediction
mortality
co-operation
simulation

Keywords

  • Evolutionary simulation
  • Mortality
  • Parental care
  • Sexual selection
  • Social evolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Social role specialization promotes cooperation between parents. / Barta, Zoltán; Székely, Tamás; Liker, András; Harrison, Freya.

In: American Naturalist, Vol. 183, No. 6, 2014, p. 747-761.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Barta, Zoltán ; Székely, Tamás ; Liker, András ; Harrison, Freya. / Social role specialization promotes cooperation between parents. In: American Naturalist. 2014 ; Vol. 183, No. 6. pp. 747-761.
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