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Keywords:

  • parental care;
  • mating effort;
  • Tsimane;
  • behavioral ecology

Abstract

Human males are remarkable among mammals in the level of investment they provide to their wives and children. However, there has been debate as to the degree to which men actually invest and through which fitness pathways the benefits of familial investment are realized. Much of the previous research exploring these issues has focused on men's roles as providers, but few have explored correlates of men's direct parental care. Although this is reasonable given men's parental emphasis on provisioning, the providing of direct care is more straightforward with a clear provider and recipient and little ambiguity as to the care-giver's intent. Here, we explore contextual correlates of men's direct care among the Tsimane of Bolivia to determine the extent to which such care is patterned to enhance its effectiveness in increasing child wellbeing and the efficient functioning of the family. We also explore whether Tsimane fathers provide care in ways that enhance the positive effect it has on the wife's perception of the care provider. Overall, we find that Tsimane men appear responsive to the needs of children and the family, but show that there is little evidence that men respond to factors expected to increase the impact that men's care has on their reputations with their wives. Am J Phys Anthropol 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.