A fundamental goal of behavioral ecology is to understand how shared interests and conflicts among related individuals shape family life. Offspring benefit from increasing parental care, but parents' ability to care for young is limited by resources needed for future reproduction and survival. This conflict is thought to favor strategies that allow individuals to balance the costs and benefits of parenting. Research on this topic has typically focused on species with conventional sex roles where females care for young. In glassfrogs, males care for eggs and embryos can hatch early to escape from abandoned eggs. This project will evaluate hypotheses about father embryo co-evolution by assessing heritability and variation in ecologically important paternal and embryonic traits. It will test if females select good fathers or mate strategically to induce good parenting and how interactions between parents affect the evolution of embryos' hatching strategies. This project will offer new perspectives on family life by testing how sexual selection influences the behavior of fathers and embryos. Glassfrog family interactions have substantial appeal for scientific education and public outreach. The PIs will work with the media, museums, and zoos to disseminate results broadly. This project will offer training in integrative methods of genomics, behavioral ecology, and quantitative genetics for a graduate student and an undergraduate assistant and foster collaborations with Latin American researchers.

This research uses adaptive plasticity in hatching to examine parent offspring interactions and their consequences in a glassfrog with male care of eggs. In Hyalinobatrachium colymbiphyllum, higher mating success results in more paternal effort, longer embryonic periods, and higher offspring survival. The team will use a next-generation genotype-by-sequencing method for maternity analysis, in combination with detailed histories of male mating and caring behavior, to assess female mating choices in the context of social environments. Specifically, they will test whether females mate tactically to exploit male care and assess potential mutual benefits to co-nesting females. The team will test hypotheses of father embryo co-evolution by assessing covariation between paternal traits, measured in a field experiment, and hatching responses of their embryos, measured in a common-garden experiment. This study extends fundamental tests of parent offspring interactions to a system with male-only care, and will inform and motivate other research on parental and embryo strategies. Data will be shared in online supplements to publications or in public archives (DRYAD, the Sequence Read Archive, GenBank) as appropriate. Outreach materials will be posted online.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS)
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emilia martins
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Boston University
United States
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