Parental care is extremely diverse across species, ranging from simple behaviours to complex adaptations, varying in duration and in which sex cares. Surprisingly, we know little about how such diversity has evolved. Here, using phylogenetic comparative methods and data for over 1300 amphibian species, we show that egg attendance, arguably one of the simplest care behaviours, is gained and lost faster than any other care form, while complex adaptations, like brooding and viviparity, are lost at very low rates, if at all. Prolonged care from the egg to later developmental stages evolves from temporally limited care, but it is as easily lost as it is gained. Finally, biparental care is evolutionarily unstable regardless of whether the parents perform complementary or similar care duties. By considering the full spectrum of parental care adaptations, our study reveals a more complex and nuanced picture of how care evolves, is maintained, or is lost.
- life history theory
- Parental care
- Phylogenetic comparative analysis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)