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Macroecology of parental care in arthropods: higher mortality risk leads to higher benefits of offspring protection in tropical climates

Santos, Eduardo S.A.; Bueno, Pedro P.; Gilbert, James D. J.; Machado, Glauco


Eduardo S.A. Santos

Pedro P. Bueno

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Dr James Gilbert
Lecturer in Zoology/ Deputy Programme Leader, Zoology

Glauco Machado


The intensity of biotic interactions varies around the world, in such a way that mortality risk imposed by natural enemies is usually higher in the tropics. A major role of offspring attendance is protection against natural enemies, so the benefits of this behaviour should be higher in tropical regions. We tested this macroecological prediction with a meta-regression of field experiments in which the mortality of guarded and unguarded broods was compared in arthropods. Mortality of unguarded broods was higher, and parental care was more beneficial, in warmer, less seasonal environments. Moreover, in these same environments, additional lines of defence further reduced offspring mortality, implying that offspring attendance alone is not enough to deter natural enemies in tropical regions. These results help to explain the high frequency of parental care among tropical species and how biotic interactions influence the occurrence of parental care over large geographic scales. Finally, our findings reveal that additional lines of defences – an oftentimes neglected component of parental care – have an important effect on the covariation between the benefits of parental care and the climate-mediated mortality risk imposed by natural enemies.


Santos, E. S., Bueno, P. P., Gilbert, J. D. J., & Machado, G. (2017). Macroecology of parental care in arthropods: higher mortality risk leads to higher benefits of offspring protection in tropical climates. Biological Reviews, 92(3), 1688-1701.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 14, 2016
Online Publication Date Oct 10, 2016
Publication Date 2017-08
Deposit Date Oct 23, 2017
Publicly Available Date Oct 23, 2017
Journal Biological reviews
Print ISSN 1464-7931
Electronic ISSN 1469-185X
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 92
Issue 3
Pages 1688-1701
Keywords Abiotic factors; Biotic interactions; Evapotranspiration; Egg attendance; Egg coating; Meta-regression; Nest; Parasitism; Parental removal; Predation
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the author's accepted manuscript of an article published in Biological reviews, 2017, v.92 issue 3.


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