Conclusions

The function of maternal behavior is to facilitate the survival of her offspring. What is required to ensure offspring survival is influenced by the riskiness of the environment and the degree of development or vulnerability of the young. As a result, maternal behaviors are very diverse across species. Common features of maternal behavior are the provision of food and warmth to the young, and their protection from harm. Maternal behavior is also important to teach the young animal about its environment, and to equip the adult with the skills it requires to survive. Recent research suggests this also includes modification of offspring responses to stress, and even the subsequent expression of maternal behaviour by the offspring.

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