Parent–offspring conflict  

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Parent-offspring conflict (POC) is a term coined in 1974 by Robert Trivers. It is used to signify the evolutionary conflict arising from differences in optimal parental investment (PI) to an offspring from the standpoint of the parent and the offspring. Here, PI is any investment by the parent in an individual offspring that decreases the parent's ability to invest in other offspring, while the selected offspring's chance of surviving increases.

POC occurs in sexually reproducing species and is based on a genetic conflict: Parents are equally related to their offspring and are therefore expected to equalize their investment among them. Offspring are only half or less related to their siblings (and fully related to themselves) so they try to get more PI than the parents intended to provide even at their siblings' disadvantage. However, POC is limited by the close genetic relationship between parent and offspring: If an offspring obtains additional PI at the expense of its siblings, it decreases the number of its surviving siblings. Therefore, any gene in an offspring that leads to additional PI decreases (to some extent) the number of surviving copies of itself located in siblings. Thus, if the costs in siblings are too high, such a gene might be selected against despite the benefit to the offspring. The problem of specifying how an individual is expected to weigh a relative against itself has been examined by W. D. Hamilton in 1964 in the context of kin selection. Hamilton's rule says that altruistic behavior will be positively selected if the benefit to the recipient multiplied by the genetic relatedness of the recipient to the performer is greater than the cost to the performer of a social act. Conversely, selfish behavior can only be favoured when Hamilton's inequality is not satisfied. This leads to the prediction that, other things being equal, POC will be stronger under half siblings (i.e., unrelated males father a female's successive offspring) than under full siblings.

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