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Parental Care and Investment

  1. Alejandro Gonzalez-Voyer1,2,
  2. Niclas Kolm1

Published Online: 15 FEB 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0021907



How to Cite

Gonzalez-Voyer, A. and Kolm, N. 2010. Parental Care and Investment. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    Uppsala University, Evolutionary Biology Center, Uppsala, Sweden

  2. 2

    Estación Biólogica de Doñana, CSIC, Sevilla, España

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 FEB 2010

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Table 1. Hypotheses proposed to explain differences between the sexes in relative parental investment
HypothesisShort descriptionSupport and criticism
AnisogamyDifferences between the sexes in gamete size lead to differences in relative parental investmentNo reason why high levels of initial investment should favour higher investment later on
Parental investment hypothesisExtends anisogamy explanation to include broader definition of parental investment. Relative differences in parental investment between the sexes determine sexual selectionCriticism above applies to this hypothesis also. Further, it cannot explain observed patterns where the sex caring for offspring also competes more intensely for mates
Internal versus external fertilizationProposed initially to explain care patterns in fishes, proposes that internal fertilization will favour maternal care whereas external fertilization will favour paternal careData from fishes seem to support it, but it cannot explain variation in care patterns in birds, all of which present internal fertilization
Sexual selectionProposes that relative differences between the sexes in the intensity of sexual selection will determine parental investment patternsHas the important advantage of assuming no initial bias between the sexes in the amount of investment. Incorporates information on adult sex ratios and operational sex ratios. Supported by one empirical study so far