Waters, Everett Department of Psychology, State University of New York, Stony Brook, New York.
Posada, German Department of Psychology, State University of New York, Stony Brook, New York.
Last reviewed:December 2019
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- Biological need
- Eliciting and maintaining maternal behavior
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The pattern of care given an offspring by its mother. Maternal behavior constitutes the various aspects of behavior displayed by the female parent in the course of raising its offspring. In most species that care for their young after birth, the female does most or all of the work (Fig. 1). However, many other species reproduce generation after generation without receiving or providing any parental care. For example, insects and fish commonly produce vast numbers of offspring that they neither feed nor defend, resulting in the loss of many offspring to predators and to other hazards. Their great numbers, though, ensure that some will survive and reproduce. Also, if the young of a species are self-sufficient at birth or if they mature very rapidly after birth, they can often survive and reproduce with little parental care. See also: Behavioral ecology; Instinctive behavior; Reproductive behavior
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