IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Parental-care parasitism: how do unrelated offspring attain acceptance by foster parents?

Listed author(s):
  • María Roldán
  • Manuel Soler
Registered author(s):

    In this review, we describe a new term, "parental-care parasitism", that we define as the interaction in which an individual (the parasite) obtains reproductive benefits while reducing or completely eliminating its own costs of parenting by exploiting any type of offspring care provided by other individuals (the hosts). Parental-care parasitism comprises parasitic behaviors ranging from interactions in which just the nest is taken over to those where various combinations of nest, food and offspring care are parasitized. We subdivide parental-care parasitism into 3 categories depending on the strategy used by the parasite to reach host nest: 1) the parasite approaches the nest during host absence, 2) parasite and host adults meet at the nest but no aggression is carried out, or 3) the host tries to evict the parasite at the nest. We also discuss the costs and benefits for both parents and offspring, as well as for hosts and parasites, placing different forms of parental-care parasitism in an evolutionary context within the frameworks of both parental investment theory and coevolutionary arms race theory. Herein, we thoroughly discuss the lack of offspring discrimination found in some species, some populations of the same species and some individuals within the same population on the basis of the coevolutionary arms race theory, and the fact that unrelated offspring attain acceptance by foster parents, contrary to the general predictions of parental investment theory. This review offers a conceptual framework that seeks to link parental investment theory with coevolutionary arms race theory. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by International Society for Behavioral Ecology in its journal Behavioral Ecology.

    Volume (Year): 22 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 4 ()
    Pages: 679-691

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:oup:beheco:v:22:y:2011:i:4:p:679-691
    Contact details of provider: Postal:
    Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP, UK

    Fax: 01865 267 985
    Web page:

    Order Information: Web:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:beheco:v:22:y:2011:i:4:p:679-691. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press)

    or (Christopher F. Baum)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.