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Abstract

Parental care in the burying beetle Nicrophorus orbicollis was studied by comparing the composition of male and female repertories and time budgets and by analyzing the pairwise transition frequencies of brood-care acts performed by each sex. Males and females performed the same brood-care acts, but the frequency and duration of several acts differed significantly between the sexes. Males spent more time guarding the brood chamber than did females and females regurgitated to larvae more frequently than did males. Transition frequencies between behavior acts were used to attempt to define roles to examine the organization of behavior. There were no important significant associations between acts suggesting that behavior is not organized into roles but remains flexible. The data support the hypothesis that brood provisioning and brood guarding both were important in the evolution of paternal care in this species.