Academic journal article The Science Teacher

The Good Dads Die Young

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

The Good Dads Die Young

Article excerpt

When a good insect father pairs with a bad mother, he risks being exploited by her for childcare and could bear the ultimate cost by dying young.

A new study, published in the journal eLife, was carried out with burying beetles. It also shows that bad parenting creates bad parents-to-be, while well-cared for larvae mature into high-quality parents.

"Parents obviously play a huge role in determining the characteristics of their offspring," says lead researcher Rebecca Kilner of the University of Cambridge. "The aim of our study was to investigate non-genetic ways that parents achieve this."

Whether examining mothers or fathers, the research team found that individuals that received no care as larvae were less effective at raising a large brood as parents and died younger. In contrast, high-quality care not only produces a larger brood but individual offspring with a higher mass.

"Good quality parents produce offspring that become good parents themselves, while offspring that receive poor parenting then become low-quality parents," Kilner says. …

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