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The maternal drive or instinct refers to the tendency for the female of the species to perform the maternal behaviours of nesting, feeding, sheltering and protecting their offspring.

While on the surface these patterns are assumed to predominate across species, and thought to reflect innate biological mechanisms, on closer inspection the picture os complex. For example females may not display the behaviours across environmental conditions, and in many species, including man, males provide similar patterns of behaviour.

As a consequence the term has fallen out of favour in recent years.

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