Maternal behaviors include all those behaviors carried out by a parturient mother that influence the lives of her offspring, both those that indirectly affect the offspring (e.g., nest site selection, increased food intake in pregnancy) and behaviors that are directly displayed to the offspring. Maternal behaviors have evolved as they promote the survival of the offspring, and they are expressed by nearly all mammals and birds, and by some fish, reptile, and invertebrate species. Maternal behaviors are species-specific, but they serve a similar purpose in all species: that is, to protect, feed, and nurture the young until they are able to perform these behaviors themselves. Behavioral expression is affected by species factors: maternal social behavior, reproductive strategy, offspring development at birth, environmental niche, and paternal care. Typically, man has domesticated animals that are social, polygynous (one male mates with several females), and show exclusively maternal care.

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