An asymmetric parental investment conflict with continuous strategy sets.

Research paper by Osnat O Yaniv

Indexed on: 25 Jun '05Published on: 25 Jun '05Published in: Journal of Theoretical Biology


In the parental investment conflict each of the sexes decides how much to invest in its brood, where its decision influences both sexes' fitness. In nature, each species is usually characterized by a common parental care pattern, male-only care, female-only care or biparental care. A possible way for understanding the factors that have led each species to adopt its unique parental care pattern is to analyse a male's and a female's decision process using a game-theoretical model. This paper suggests a two-stage game-theoretical model with two types of players, male and female. During the game each parent makes three decisions. The interval between the beginning of the game, i.e. after mating and having offspring, and the moment a parent starts to care for them is a random variable. Thus, in the first stage a parent chooses the cumulative probability distribution of this interval, and its amount of parental care. In the second stage the other parent chooses its probability for cooperation. It is assumed that as long as parental care is not provided the offspring are at risk, and that parental caring accrues a different cost for each sex. We compute the Evolutionary Stable Strategies (ESS) under payoff-relevant asymmetry, and show that uniparental and biparental care are possible ESS. We also characterize cases where the sex having the lower cost "forces" the sex having the higher cost to care and vice versa.