Researchers in a recent study have found that if a mother is already a generous provider then her offspring will nag her less.
The study conducted by the scientist of the University of Manchester uncovers a fitness cost to begging for care. The people, who spend more time soliciting for care, weigh less than those who are more easily satisfied.
Though the study was conducted on mice, the findings are applicable to any social species, including humans.
Researcher Reinmar Hager said that their aim was to unpick the genetic conflict between the care a parent provides and the amount that offspring want.
He added that if offspring are too demanding it can be costly to parents and to themselves. But if parents don’t invest enough, their genes may not survive the next generation.
A key part of the study looked at how genes expressed in offspring influence their mother’s behaviour.
First author David Ashbrook said that for the first time they have identified specific genetic variations in offspring that lead to preferential maternal treatment, which in turn improves offspring fitness.
The research is published in the journal eLife.