Using experimental evolution to study adaptations for life within the family

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From: The American Naturalist(Vol. 185, Issue 5)
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Document Type: Author abstract; Report
Length: 234 words

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Abstract :

Parents of many species provision their young, and the extent of parental provisioning constitutes a major component of the offspring's social environment. Thus, a change in parental provisioning can alter selection on offspring, resulting in the coevolution of parental and offspring traits. Although this reasoning is central to our evolutionary understanding of family life, there is little direct evidence that selection by parents causes evolutionary change in their offspring. Here we use experimental evolution to examine how populations of burying beetles adapt to a change in posthatching parental provisioning. We measured the performance of larvae descended from lab populations that had been maintained with and without posthatching parental care (Full Care and No Care populations). We found that adaptation to the absence of posthatching care led to rapid and consistent changes in larval survival in the absence of care. Specifically, larvae from No Care populations had higher survival in the absence of care than larvae from Full Care populations. Other measures of larval performance, such as the ability of larvae to consume a breeding carcass and larval mass at dispersal, did not differ between the Full Care and No Care populations. Nevertheless, our results show that populations can adapt rapidly to a change in the extent of parental care and that experimental evolution can be used to study such adaptation. Keywords: parental care, experimental evolution, coadaptation, burying beetle, Nicrophorus vespilloides, interacting phenotypes. DOI: 10.1086/680500

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A413785359