The Evolution of Parental Decision Making


  • Ryan Hodgson Mcmaster


Parents make crucial decisions that can have dramatic impacts on their offspring's and ultimately their own fitness. Across the animal kingdom, these fitness-influencing decisions are displayed through a breadth of flexible parenting behaviors. As environmental conditions change and fluctuate, evolution has favored the ability for animals to flexibly adjust their parental care behaviour to maximize their fitness under their current contexts. Yet, this flexibility is not without cost. With decision-making abilities comes the opportunity for mistakes to occur and thus some species display rigid and inflexible parental care behaviour. Here, I highlight the adaptive contexts where evolution has favored behavioural flexibility and decision-making of care. In doing so, I provide insight into how and why decisions over parental care have evolved.





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