Models of parent - offspring conflict concerning levels of caregiving centre on conflict resolution by offspring control, compromise or offspring 'honest signalling' that parents use to maximize their own fitness. Recent empirical studies on motivational control of parental feeding of offspring are interpreted as supporting the latter model. Here, we examine parental care in an amphipod, Crangonyx pseudogracilis, which directs care to embryos in a brood pouch. Embryo removal and transplantation elucidated causal factors that determine levels of caregiving. In the short-term, females with all embryos removed reduced care activities, but partial embryo removal did not affect caregiving, evidence of 'unshared' parental care. In the long-term, females with all embryos removed ceased care. Thus, females have a maternal state that is maintained by stimuli from offspring. Transplantation of early/late stage embryos among females originally carrying early/late stage embryos revealed that stimuli from embryos indicate their age-dependent needs, but only modify caregiving within the constraints of a changing endogenous maternal state. Thus, we demonstrate that mothers and offspring share motivational control of care. However, we highlight the inappropriate use of motivational data in reaching conclusions about the resolution of parent - offspring conflict.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)