Data from: Biparental care is predominant and beneficial to parents in the burying beetle Nicrophorus orbicollis (Coleoptera: Silphidae)
Benowitz, Kyle M.; Moore, Allen J. (2016), Data from: Biparental care is predominant and beneficial to parents in the burying beetle Nicrophorus orbicollis (Coleoptera: Silphidae), Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m4452
Parenting strategies can be flexible within a species and may have varying fitness effects. Understanding this flexibility and its fitness consequences is important for understanding why parenting strategies evolve. In the present study, we investigate the fitness consequences of flexible parenting in the burying beetle Nicrophorus orbicollis, a species known for its advanced provisioning behaviour of regurgitated vertebrate carrion to offspring by both sexes. We show that, even when a parent is freely allowed to abandon the carcass at any point in time, biparental post-hatching care is the most common pattern of care adopted in N. orbicollis. Furthermore, two parents together raised more offspring than single parents of either sex, showing that the presence of the male can directly influence parental fitness even in the absence of competitors. This contrasts with studies in other species of burying beetle, where biparental families do not differ in offspring number. This may explain why biparental care is more common in N. orbicollis than in other burying beetles. We suggest how the fitness benefits of two parents may play a role in the evolution and maintenance of flexible biparental care in N. orbicollis.