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Divergent coevolutionary trajectories in parent-offspring interactions and discrimination against brood parasites revealed by interspecific cross-fostering.

ABSTRACT: In animal families, parents are expected to adapt to their offspring's traits, and offspring, in turn, are expected to adapt to the environment circumscribed by their parents. However, whether such coevolutionary trajectories differ between closely related species is poorly understood. Here, we employ interspecific cross-fostering in three species of burying beetles, Nicrophorus orbicollis, Nicrophorus pustulatus and Nicrophorus vespilloides, to test for divergent co-adaptation among species with different degrees of offspring dependency on parental care, and to test whether they are able to discriminate against interspecific parasites. We found that offspring survival was always higher when offspring were reared by conspecific rather than heterospecific parents. In the case of N. orbicollis raising N. pustulatus, none of the larvae survived. Overall, these results indicate that parent and offspring traits have diverged between species, and that the differential survival of conspecific and heterospecific larvae is because of improper matching of co-adapted traits, or, in the case of N. orbicollis with larval N. pustulatus, because of selection on parents to recognize and destroy interspecific brood parasites. We suggest that burying beetles experiencing a high risk of brood parasitism have evolved direct recognition mechanisms that enable them to selectively kill larvae of potential brood parasites.

SUBMITTER: Capodeanu-Nagler A 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6030345 | BioStudies | 2018-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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