Offspring genetic effects on maternal care

Harry G. Potter, David G. Ashbrook, Reinmar Hager

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Parental care is found widely across animal taxa and is manifest in a range of behaviours from basic provisioning in cockroaches to highly complex behaviours seen in mammals. The evolution of parental care is viewed as the outcome of an evolutionary cost/benefit trade-off between investing in current and future offspring, leading to the selection of traits in offspring that influence parental behaviour. Thus, level and quality of parental care are affected by both parental and offspring genetic differences that directly and indirectly influence parental care behaviour. While significant research effort has gone into understanding how parental genomes affect parental, and mostly maternal, behaviour, few studies have investigated how offspring genomes affect parental care. In this review, we bring together recent findings across different fields focussing on the mechanism and genetics of offspring effects on maternal care in mammals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-205
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers in Neuroendocrinology
Early online date18 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Indirect genetic effects
  • Maternal behaviour
  • Offspring solicitation
  • Ultrasonic vocalizations


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