Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 57–64 | Cite as

Male care and mating effort among Hadza foragers

  • Frank Marlowe


Paternal care figures prominently in many scenarios of human evolution. Recently, however, such scenarios have been challenged on two scores. First, the level of male contribution may be insignificant. Second, male care may be provided as a form of mating effort, rather than parenting effort. In theory, since men can enhance their Darwinian fitness both by providing care to their own offspring if this raises offspring fitness and by pursuing additional mates if this leads to additional offspring, men should respond to payoffs from both mating and parenting effort. If men respond to payoffs from parenting effort, paternity ought to make a difference. And if men respond to payoffs from mating effort, mating opportunities ought to make a difference. I analyzed the impact of these two factors on variation in male care among the Hadza, a foraging society in Tanzania. Two predictions were tested: (1) biological children will receive more care than stepchildren, and (2) men will provide less care to their biological children as their mating opportunities increase. Both predictions were supported. These results suggest men provide care, in part, as parenting effort, and that they trade off parenting effort for mating effort when they have greater mating opportunities.

Key words Male care Parenting effort Mating effort Resource acquisition Foragers 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank Marlowe
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology Harvard University, Peabody Museum 11 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA e-mail: Tel.: +1-617-4951870; Fax: +1-617-4968041US

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