The evolution of parental care in salamanders

Balázs Vági, Daniel Marsh, Gergely Katona, Zsolt Végvári, Robert P. Freckleton, András Liker, Tamás Székely

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Abstract

Complex parenting has been proposed to contribute to the evolutionary success of vertebrates. However, the evolutionary routes to complex parenting and the role of parenting in vertebrate diversity are still contentious. Although basal vertebrates provide clues to complex reproduction, these are often understudied. Using 181 species that represent all major lineages of an early vertebrate group, the salamanders and newts (Caudata, salamanders henceforth) here we show that fertilisation mode is tied to parental care: male-only care occurs in external fertilisers, whereas female-only care exclusively occurs in internal fertilisers. Importantly, internal fertilisation opens the way to terrestrial reproduction, because fertilised females are able to deposit their eggs on land, and with maternal care provision, the eggs could potentially develop outside the aquatic environment. Taken together, our results of a semi-aquatic early vertebrate group propose that the diversity and follow-up radiation of terrestrial vertebrates are inherently associated with a complex social behaviour, parenting.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16655
JournalScientific Reports
Volume12
Issue number1
Early online date5 Oct 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Oct 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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