In brood-caring species, family members are faced with a conflict over resource distribution. While parents are selected to adapt the amount of care according to their offspring's needs, offspring might be selected to demand more care than optimal for parents. Recent studies on birds have shown that the social network structure of offspring affects the amount of care and thus the fitness of families. Such a network structure of repeated interactions is probably influenced by within-brood relatedness.We experimentally manipulated the group composition in a brood-caring spider to test howthe presence of unrelated spiderlings affects the dynamics between female and brood as well as within broods. Broods consisting of siblings grew better and had a lower mortality compared with mixed broods, no matter whether the caring female was a genetic or foster mother. Interestingly, we found that foster mothers lost weight when caring for sibling broods, whereas females caring for mixed broods gained weight. This indicates that females may be willing to share more prey when the brood contains exclusively siblings even if the entire brood is unrelated to the female. Resource distribution may thus be negotiated by offspring dynamics that could have a signalling function to females.
|Number of pages
|Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
|Published - 22 Mar 2014
- Parent-offspring conflict
- Social network structure