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Front. Ecol. Evol. | doi: 10.3389/fevo.2018.00196

Male Assistance in Parental Care does not Buffer against Detrimental Effects of Maternal Inbreeding on Offspring

 Tom Ratz1*, Elise Castel1 and  Per Smiseth1
  • 1University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

The severity of inbreeding depression often varies across environments and recent work suggests that social interactions can aggravate or reduce inbreeding depression. For example, stressful interactions such as competition can exacerbate inbreeding depression, whereas benign interactions such as parental care can buffer against inbreeding depression in offspring. Here, we test whether male assistance in parental care can buffer against the detrimental effects of maternal inbreeding on offspring fitness in the burying beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides. Our results confirm that maternal inbreeding had detrimental effects on offspring survival. However, we found no evidence that male assistance in parental care buffered against those effects on offspring fitness. Outbred females benefitted from male assistance, gaining more weight over the breeding attempt when assisted by a male. In contrast, inbred females did not benefit from male assistance, gaining as much weight regardless of whether they were assisted by a male or not. Surprisingly, we find that males gained more weight during the breeding attempt when mated to an inbred female, suggesting that males benefitted from assisting an inbred female partner in terms of their weight gain. Overall, our findings suggest that parental care or other benign social interactions may not always buffer against detrimental effects of inbreeding depression.

Keywords: inbreeding depression, Inbreeding-environment interaction, indirect genetic effects, Nicrophorus vespilloides, parental care

Received: 05 Oct 2018; Accepted: 06 Nov 2018.

Edited by:

Trine Bilde, Aarhus University, Denmark

Reviewed by:

Daniel T. Blumstein, University of California, Los Angeles, United States
Tom Langen, Clarkson University, United States  

Copyright: © 2018 Ratz, Castel and Smiseth. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mr. Tom Ratz, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, tom.ratz@ed.ac.uk