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Identifying the costs benefits and incidences of parental care in a social lizard


Botterill-James, T and Halliwell, B and Barnes, EA and McEvoy, J and Uller, T and Wapstra, E and While, GM, Identifying the costs benefits and incidences of parental care in a social lizard, Australian Society of Herpetologists Annual meeting, 21-24 January, Eildon, Victoria (2015) [Conference Extract]

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In this study, we used a social skink species, Liopholis whitiii, to quantify the costs and benefits of parental care and to test how the expression of care varies with key ecological conditions. To achieve this we carried out a detailed enclosure experiment manipulating habitat structure with data collected over 7 years from a natural population. We found that the expression of parental care was extremely variable in the natural population, with 8-62 % of parents caring across years. This variation in care was strongly linked to variation in precipitation, with a greater proportion of the population caring in drier years compared to wetter years. There was also variation in the expression of care across treatments in the enclosure experiment, with the incidence of care significantly higher when high quality habitats were clumped together. Across both the experiment and the natural population, offspring that were cared for had increased growth but not survival. We found no costs of care to parents in either the experiment or the natural population. Combined, these results suggest that poor ecological conditions result in an increase in the expression of parental care. This suggests that parental care is most common under conditions when we would expect it to be most costly for parents. However, as our results suggest that care has little costs to parents, patterns of parental care in this system may be driven by offspring rather than parents.

Item Details

Item Type:Conference Extract
Keywords:parental care, mating systems, Egernia, sociality
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Behavioural ecology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences
UTAS Author:Botterill-James, T (Mr Thomas Botterill-James)
UTAS Author:Halliwell, B (Dr Benjamin Halliwell)
UTAS Author:Barnes, EA (Miss Emily Barnes)
UTAS Author:McEvoy, J (Dr Joanne McEvoy)
UTAS Author:Wapstra, E (Associate Professor Erik Wapstra)
UTAS Author:While, GM (Dr Geoff While)
ID Code:110474
Year Published:2015
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (FT110100597)
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2016-07-27
Last Modified:2016-08-11

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