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Introduction to Parental Investment

One of the most important things that an animal can do is to pass it’s genes on to the next generation, and the most effective way of doing this is through reproduction.  Every species is biologically driven to reproduce, and each has developed strategies to optimize their reproductive output while insuring the survival of their offspring (Williams 1966).  These strategies for successfully rearing offspring vary widely among different species in several ways.  One of the most drastic ways in which they differ is in the type of parental investment they provide (Gross 2005).  Parental investment differs in many ways, including which parent invests more into the offspring, and how much or for how long the parents invest into the offspring in total-if they invest any time at all.  Parental investment includes providing a mate with food, providing a mate with a place to nest, feed, or raise young, protection of a mate, and help in the birthing process.  It also includes providing protection, food, resources, or other knowledge to offspring (Trivers 1972).  Additionally, parental investment can be limited by things that would have a seriously negative effect on the parent’s own fitness (Williams 1966).  In many cases, parental investment has to do with a cost-benefit relationship; the cost to the parent of investing heavily into offspring, compared to the benefit of the survival of the offspring (Williams 1996, Trivers 1972).  Several scientists from many backgrounds have studied parental investment to look for, analyze and compare trends and general rules regarding parental investment.

~ by fknizner on .


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