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Parent-Offspring Conflict and Coadaptation

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Science  12 Mar 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5971, pp. 1373-1376
DOI: 10.1126/science.1186056

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Abstract

The evolution of family life has traditionally been studied in parallel by behavioral ecologists and quantitative geneticists. The former focus on parent-offspring conflict and whether parents or offspring control provisioning, whereas the latter concentrate on the coadaptation of parental supply and offspring demand. Here we show how prenatal effects on offspring begging can link the two different approaches. Using theoretical and experimental analyses, we show that when offspring control provisioning, prenatal effects primarily serve the parent’s interests: Selection on parents drives coadaptation of parent and offspring traits. In contrast, when parents control provisioning, prenatal effects primarily serve the offspring’s interests: Selection on the offspring drives coadaptation of parent and offspring traits. Parent-offspring conflict may thus be responsible for the selective forces that generate parent-offspring coadaptation.

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