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Abstract

Game theoretical models predict that when one parent reduces its care, the mate should adjust its care facultatively to compensate partially. To test these models, mate-removal and mate-handicapping techniques have been used. However, there have been few experimental studies comparing results from mate removal and mate handicapping, and there has been no study on insects employing handicapping. Male and female burying beetles both maintain the nest and regurgitate to young. We examined how burying beetle parents adjust their level of care when their mates are removed or handicapped. Males increased their frequency of provisioning significantly after female removal, whereas females showed no response to male removal. However, neither sex showed a response to the handicapping of its partner, although handicapped mates decreased the frequency of their care. This result showed that burying beetle parents respond differentially to mate removal and handicapping, and suggests that parents do not respond to a change in the behavior of their mates.