This will bug moth­ers... in­sect fa­thers also shirk child­care du­ties

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Daily Tele­graph Re­porter

THE re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for child­care have tra­di­tion­ally fallen to women while men go out to work, but even when moth­ers are the ma­jor bread­win­ner, sta­tis­tics by the Of­fice for Na­tional Sta­tis­tics show that women do 40 per cent more house­hold chores than their part­ners.

It ap­pears the an­i­mal king­dom is lit­tle dif­fer­ent. A study by the Uni­ver­si­ties of Glas­gow and Ed­in­burgh has found that male bury­ing bee­tles will shirk their du­ties if there is a fe­male around to help.

Males and fe­males gave equal care when rais­ing young alone, but when rais­ing young to­gether, males gave less care, forc­ing fe­males to com­pen­sate by tak­ing on more of the work­load. They are also far more likely to aban­don the fam­ily than fe­males.

Re­searchers wanted to find out if this “shirk­ing” of re­spon­si­bil­ity was bad for the off­spring, and if it would be bet­ter to be raised by a sin­gle par­ent. A re­cent study look­ing at ze­bra finches sug­gested the chicks suf­fered when raised jointly by a fa­ther and mother.

How­ever, the new re­search, pub­lished in the Pro­ceed­ings of the Royal

So­ci­ety B, showed that when off­spring were raised by two par­ents, they still grew bet­ter and had higher sur­vival rates than when raised by ei­ther a sin­gle male or fe­male par­ent, re­gard­less of how much ef­fort was put in by each.

Ex­perts said that “bi­parental care”, when par­ents co­op­er­ate to pro­vide care for their off­spring, is ob­served in many species in­clud­ing in birds, fishes, in­sects and mam­mals.

Dr Natalie Pi­lak­outa, from the Univer­sity of Glas­gow’s In­sti­tute of Bio­di­ver­sity, An­i­mal Health and Com­par­a­tive Medicine, asked: “Are off­spring ever bet­ter off with two par­ents work­ing to­gether than a sin­gle par­ent work­ing alone? We show that this is in­deed the case in bury­ing bee­tles: off­spring reared by both par­ents grow larger and have higher sur­vival [rates].

“This might help ex­plain why bi­parental care has evolved in so many species across the an­i­mal king­dom.”

Re­searchers chose bury­ing bee­tles for the study be­cause 52 per cent of the in­sects co-par­ent, while 39 per cent of off­spring are brought up by the fe­male alone, and 3 per cent just by the male.

In breed­ing, the par­ents live up to their name by bury­ing a small car­cass and lay­ing eggs on it, which then hatch and the lar­vae be­gin eat­ing the car­cass. They are also fed by the par­ents for five days af­ter hatch­ing. For the study, sci­en­tists set up breed­ing con­di­tions us­ing 40 co-par­ent­ing pairs and 49 sin­gle par­ents pairs and mon­i­tored them for 30 min­utes to find out how of­ten the bee­tles tended to their off­spring.

The re­sults showed that when work­ing jointly with a part­ner, males pro­vided around two min­utes of care in the pe­riod, while fe­males pro­vided roughly 10 min­utes. Sin­gle par­ent fam­i­lies in con­trast pro­vided just eight min­utes of di­rect care. Sim­i­larly, just 5 per cent of fe­males were seen to aban­don their brood while jointly par­ent­ing com­pared to 35 per cent of males.

No love lost Po­lice were called to Boris Becker’s home for the sec­ond time in a month yes­ter­day as his es­tranged wife moved out. Lilly Becker, a Dutch model, was seen in dis­cus­sion with four of­fi­cers on the steps of the house in Wim­ble­don, south...

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