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Parent–Offspring and Sibling Conflict

  1. Rebecca M Kilner

Published Online: 15 APR 2002

DOI: 10.1038/npg.els.0003668



How to Cite

Kilner, R. M. 2002. Parent–Offspring and Sibling Conflict. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2002

This is not the most recent version of the article. View current version (15 OCT 2014)


Parent–offspring conflict arises when the optimal level of parental care that offspring would choose to receive exceeds the optimal level of parental care that a parent would prefer to provide. For example, when a parent is identically related to the members of its brood, it may prefer to divide resources equally among its young. By contrast, the individual offspring value their own well being more highly than their siblings and so should try to take a disproportionate share of food. By taking resources from their siblings, individual offspring can additionally cause sibling conflict.


  • Hamilton's rule;
  • life history theory;
  • communication;
  • family conflicts