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Data from: Male age mediates reproductive investment and response to paternity assurance


Benowitz, Kyle M. et al. (2013), Data from: Male age mediates reproductive investment and response to paternity assurance, Dryad, Dataset,


Theory predicts that male response to reduced paternity will depend on male state and interactions between the sexes. If there is little chance of reproducing again, then males should invest heavily in current offspring, regardless of their share in paternity. We tested this by manipulating male age and paternity assurance in the burying beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides. We found older males invested more in both mating effort and parental effort than younger males. Furthermore, male age, a component of male state, mediated male response to perceived paternity. Older males provided more prenatal care, whereas younger males provided less prenatal care, when perceived paternity was low. Adjustments in male care, however, did not influence selection acting indirectly on parents, through offspring performance. This is because females adjusted their care in response to the age of their partner, providing less care when paired with older males than younger males. As a result offspring, performance did not differ between treatments. Our study shows, for the first time, that a male state variable is an important modifier of paternity–parental care trade-offs and highlights the importance of social interactions between males and females during care in determining male response to perceived paternity.

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United Kingdom