Experimental evolution of a more restrained clutch size when filial cannibalism is prevented in burying beetles Nicrophorus vespilloides.
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Rebar, D., Halliwell, C., Kemp, R., & Kilner, R. (2022). Experimental evolution of a more restrained clutch size when filial cannibalism is prevented in burying beetles Nicrophorus vespilloides.. Ecol Evol, 12 (4) https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8829
Funder: FP7 Ideas: European Research Council; Id: http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100011199; Grant(s): 310785
The overproduction of offspring is commonly associated with high hatching failure and a mechanism for dispensing with surplus young. We used experimental evolution of burying beetle populations Nicrophorus vespilloides to determine causality in these correlations. We asked does eliminating the mechanism for killing "spare" offspring cause the evolution of a more restrained clutch size and consequently select for reduced hatching failure? N. vespilloides typically overproduces eggs but kills 1st instar larvae through partial filial cannibalism during brood care. We established replicate evolving populations that either could practice filial cannibalism (Full Care) or could not, by removing parents before their young hatched (No Care). After 20+ generations of experimental evolution, we measured clutch size and hatching success. We found that No Care females produced fewer eggs than Full Care females when allowed to breed on a small corpse, a finding not explained by differences in female quality. On larger corpses, females from both populations laid similar numbers of eggs. Furthermore, hatching success was greater in the No Care populations on small corpses. Our results suggest that the adaptive overproduction of offspring depends on a mechanism for eliminating surplus young and that killing offspring, in turn, relaxes selection against hatching failure.
Behavioural ecology, Evolutionary ecology, RESEARCH ARTICLE, RESEARCH ARTICLES, lack clutch size, optimistic clutch size, parental care, plasticity, reaction norm
European Research Council (310785)
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8829
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/336146