Females should behave in ways that maximize lifetime reproductive success (the “selfish mother” hypothesis [SMH]). Very often, this will mean that female behavior during reproduction maximizes fitness of the current batch of offspring. In some cases, however, females may maximize lifetime reproductive success by behaving in ways that are neutral, or even detrimental, to current offspring fitness. The “maternal manipulation hypothesis” (MMH), proposed by Shine (1995), argues that females should behave in ways that maximize fitness of the current batch of offspring. We argued, however, that if researchers focus solely on measuring benefits to offspring of female behavior during reproduction, they will not consider the possibility that female behavior is neutral or even detrimental to offspring fitness, thereby missing an important facet of behavior during reproduction. Here we reply to comments by Shine (2012) and DeNardo et al. (2012), mainly to emphasize our point that contrasting the MMH and the SMH as if they operated exclusively and independently is not productive, because females enhance their lifetime reproductive success by enhancing current offspring fitness or their own long-term fitness, or both.
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Vol. 68 • No. 3