About the symposium

This symposium on will bring together experts on parental negotiation. We will follow a traditional structure of talks followed by questions, highlighting currently open issues and promoting discussion about possible ways forward. We will have three sessions each dedicated a broad topic around parental negotiation: theoretical approaches, recent empirical advances, and variation within and between species. 

Where: University of Exeter, Streatham Campus
When:4th August 2016
Time: 09.15 - 16:30


Kate Lessells
Kate Lessells Senior Research Scientist, Netherlands Institute of Ecology.

Simon Griffith

Simon Griffith Associate Professor, Macquarie University.

James Savage

James Savage Post-doctoral researcher, Wageningen University.

About the topic

Parental care attracts broad interest in behavioural ecology because it is fundamental to the behaviour and life history of so many species. Biparental care has long been a model system for studying social behaviour, particularly the tension between conflict and cooperation driven by evolutionary conflicts of interest. At a practical level, parental care offers a tractable scenario for studying social interactions because parents interact within a relatively restricted area, with clear behavioural goals, and with frequently repeated and quantifiable behaviour. 

Parental care is critical for successful reproduction across diverse taxa, but how the necessary investment is shared between parents is still not fully understood. One of the pivotal factors in species with extended care is ‘negotiation’ - parents modifying their investment in offspring on a behavioural time scale in response to that of their mate. Such responses can be either a direct reaction to their mate’s behaviour, or an indirect response through the state (e.g. hunger or growth) of the offspring. Negotiation is interesting because it alters the resolution of sexual conflict over parental care, and hence the fitness outcomes for both carers and offspring.