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On the adaptive significance of non-parental infanticide in mammals - Linking model predictions to empirical observations

Loznik, B. (2010) On the adaptive significance of non-parental infanticide in mammals - Linking model predictions to empirical observations. Bachelor's Thesis, Biology.

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Abstract

Although it might sound counterintuitive, non-parental infanticide can be an adaptive strategy in mammals. Adult individuals may kill the offspring of conspecifics in order to obtain resources. Four hypotheses exist that try to explain under what conditions infanticide should occur. According to the sexual selection hypothesis, males kill the young of females to increase their chance of siring her future offspring. The resource competition hypothesis predicts that males or females kill young in order to increase their access to limiting resources such as territories, food or helpers. The cannibalism hypothesis predicts that young are killed in order to obtain food resources. The final hypothesis is the adoption avoidance hypothesis which predicts that young are killed in order to prevent spending time and energy in a unrelated young. The goal of this thesis is to investigate how well the predictions of the different hypotheses and associated models match empirical observations and to see if it is possible to predict for a certain species whether or not it has the potential to be infanticidal. From this study I conclude that the predictions made by the hypotheses match fairly well with empirical observations depending on the studied species. Furthermore, I conclude that it would be very difficult to predict if a certain species has the potential to be infanticidal because infanticidal behavior is the combined result of a great number of factors. Future research should study the exact background of an infanticidal act more carefully before drawing any conclusions on what hypothesis can be applied.

Item Type: Thesis (Bachelor's Thesis)
Degree programme: Biology
Thesis type: Bachelor's Thesis
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 07:31
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 07:31
URI: http://fse.studenttheses.ub.rug.nl/id/eprint/9173

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