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Data from: Delayed dispersal and prolonged brood care in a family-living beetle

Cite this dataset

Dillard, Jacqueline R.; Maigret, Thomas A. (2017). Data from: Delayed dispersal and prolonged brood care in a family-living beetle [Dataset]. Dryad.


Delayed juvenile dispersal is an important prerequisite for the evolution of family-based social systems, such as cooperative breeding and eusociality. In general, young adults forego dispersal if there are substantial benefits to remaining in the natal nest and/or the likelihood of dispersing and breeding successfully is low. We investigate some general factors thought to drive delayed juvenile dispersal in the horned passalus beetle, a family-living beetle in which young adults remain with their families in their natal nest for several months before dispersing. Fine scale population genetic structure indicated high gene flow between nest sites, suggesting that constraints on mobility are unlikely to explain philopatry. Young adults do not breed in their natal log and likely disperse before reaching breeding age, suggesting that they do not gain direct reproductive benefits from delayed dispersal. We also examined several ways in which parents might incentivize delayed dispersal by providing prolonged care to adult offspring. Although adult beetles inhibit fungal growth in the colony by manipulating both the nest-site and deceased conspecifics, this is unlikely to be a major explanation for family living since both parents and adult offspring seem capable of controlling fungal growth. Adult offspring that stayed with their family groups also neither gained more mass nor experienced faster exoskeleton development than those experimentally removed from their families. The results of these experiments suggest that our current understanding of the factors underlying prolonged family living may be insufficient to explain delayed dispersal in at least some taxa, particularly insects.

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