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  • Royal Society  (2)
  • 1
    Publication Date: 2017-01-13
    Description: Mammalian offspring require parental care, at least in the form of nursing during their early development. While mothers need to invest considerable time and energy in ensuring the survival of their current offspring, they also need to optimize their investment in one batch of offspring in order to ensure future reproduction and hence lifetime reproductive success. Free-ranging dogs live in small social groups, mate promiscuously and lack the cooperative breeding biology of other group-living canids. They face high early-life mortality, which in turn reduces fitness benefits of the mother from a batch of pups. We carried out a field-based study on free-ranging dogs in India to understand the nature of maternal care. Our analysis reveals that mothers reduce investment in energy-intensive active care and increase passive care as the pups grow older, thereby keeping overall levels of care more or less constant over pup age. Using the patterns of mother–pup interactions, we define the different phases of maternal care behaviour.
    Keywords: behaviour, ecology, evolution
    Electronic ISSN: 2054-5703
    Topics: Natural Sciences in General
    Published by Royal Society
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2016-01-01
    Description: Parent–offspring conflict (POC) theory provides an interesting premise for understanding social dynamics in facultatively social species. In free-ranging dogs, mothers increase conflict over extended parental care with their pups beyond the weaning stage. In this study, we investigated whether resource quality affects POC in the dogs that typically live in a highly competitive environment as scavengers. We built a theoretical model to predict the alternative options available to the mother in the context of food sharing with her pups when protein-rich food (meat) is provided, as compared to carbohydrate-rich food (biscuits). We fit the mothers’ response from experimental data to the model and show that the mothers choose a selfish strategy, which can in turn ensure higher lifetime reproductive success, while depriving the current litter access to better resources. These results have interesting implications for understanding the social dynamics of the dogs, and the emergence of facultative sociality in a species that evolved from strongly social ancestors. We speculate that the tendency of increased conflict in resource-rich conditions might have driven the process of domestication in the ancestors of dogs which defected from their groups in favour of richer resources around human settlements.
    Keywords: behaviour, theoretical biology, evolution
    Electronic ISSN: 2054-5703
    Topics: Natural Sciences in General
    Published by Royal Society
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