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The evolutionary demise of a social interaction: experimentally induced loss of traits involved in the supply and demand of care

Bladon, Eleanor K; Pascoal, Sonia; Bird, Nancy; Mashoodh, Rahia; Kilner, Rebecca M; (2023) The evolutionary demise of a social interaction: experimentally induced loss of traits involved in the supply and demand of care. Evolution Letters , 7 (3) pp. 168-175. 10.1093/evlett/qrad016. Green open access

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Abstract

Phenotypic plasticity enables animals to adjust their behavior flexibly to their social environment—sometimes through the expression of adaptive traits that have not been exhibited for several generations. We investigated how long social adaptations can usefully persist when they are not routinely expressed, by using experimental evolution to document the loss of social traits associated with the supply and demand of parental care. We allowed populations of burying beetles Nicrophorus vespilloides to evolve in two different social environments for 48 generations in the lab. In “Full Care” populations, traits associated with the supply and demand of parental care were expressed at every generation, whereas in “No Care” populations we prevented expression of these traits experimentally. We then revived trait expression in the No Care populations at generations 24, 43, and 48 by allowing parents to supply post-hatching care and compared these social traits with those expressed by the Full Care populations. We found that offspring demands for care and male provision of care in the No Care populations were lost sooner than female provision of care. We suggest that this reflects differences in the strength of selection for the expression of alternative traits in offspring, males and females, which can enhance fitness when post-hatching care is disrupted.

Type: Article
Title: The evolutionary demise of a social interaction: experimentally induced loss of traits involved in the supply and demand of care
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/evlett/qrad016
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1093/evlett/qrad016
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE) and European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEN). This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: experimental evolution, trait loss, social evolution, parental care, Nicrophorus vespilloides
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10170854
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