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Efficiency of uniparental male and female care against egg predators in two closely related syntopic harvestmen

Authors
Journal
Animal Behaviour
0003-3472
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
78
Issue
5
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2009.07.035
Keywords
  • Acutisoma
  • Arachnida
  • Egg Predation
  • Egg Protection
  • Iporangaia
  • Maternal Care
  • Opiliones
  • Paternal Care

Abstract

Although the benefits of maternal care have been investigated in many species, the caring role of males in species with exclusive paternal care has received less attention. We experimentally quantified the protective role of paternal care in the harvestman Iporangaia pustulosa. Additionally, we compared the effectiveness of paternal care against predation in this species with a syntopic harvestman with maternal care, Acutisoma proximum. We demonstrated that nearly one-third of the unprotected Iporangaia clutches disappeared entirely in 12 days, while the other two-thirds suffered a mean reduction of 55% in egg number. Conversely, 50% of the control clutches did not suffer any reduction, and only one was entirely consumed by predators. We also demonstrated that the mucus coat that covers Iporangaia clutches has an important deterrent role against predation by conspecifics: 58.3% of the clutches without mucus were attacked and three of them were entirely consumed, whereas only three clutches with mucus were attacked, suffering a reduction of up to three eggs. Iporangaia males were as efficient as Acutisoma females in protecting eggs. However, unattended Acutisoma eggs were attacked 20% more frequently than unattended Iporangaia eggs. Unattended Iporangaia eggs are protected by a mucus coat that prevents or decreases predation rate, whereas Acutisoma eggs are more susceptible to predation, probably because they lack this mucus coat. Thus, besides the fact that Iporangaia males efficiently protect the offspring against egg predators, females also contribute to egg protection by providing a mucus coat that deters egg predators.

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