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Effects of a low oxygen environment on parental effort and filial cannibalism in the male sand goby, Pomatoschistus minutus: Low oxygen, parental effort, and filial cannibalism in the sand goby
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
2003 (English)In: Behavioral Ecology, ISSN 1045-2249, E-ISSN 1465-7279, Vol. 14, no 3, 374-381 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In fish, brood cycling parental males sometimes eat some or all of their eggs, a behavior termed filial cannibalism. We tested predictions of filial cannibalism models related to the cost of parental care in the male sand goby, Pomatoschistus minutus, by increasing the parental effort (fanning expenditure) through reduced levels of dissolved oxygen to 39% in an experimental group, whereas a control group had fully saturated water. Males showed both full-clutch cannibalism and partial-clutch cannibalism in both treatments. Giving the males one to three females to spawn with, we found that small clutches were completely eaten more often than were larger ones, whereas partial-clutch cannibalism was not affected by clutch size. Although treatment did not affect filial cannibalism, it did affect a male's energy state such that males in the low oxygen treatment lost more body fat, indicating a greater fanning effort. This shows that males in the low oxygen treatment allocated more energy to the present brood, potentially at the expense of future reproductive success. Our study strongly suggests that filial cannibalism in male sand gobies represents a strategic life-history decision as an investment in future reproductive success, and is not triggered by a proximate need for food necessary for the male's own survival. Furthermore, males in the low oxygen treatment built nests with larger entrances, and were less likely to rebuild their nests after destruction. Presumably, this makes fanning easier but the nest more vulnerable to predators, suggesting a trade-off between fanning and nest defense.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2003. Vol. 14, no 3, 374-381 p.
National Category
Natural Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-23056DOI: 374-381 10.1093/beheco/14.3.374OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-23056DiVA: diva2:190009
Available from: 2006-12-06 Created: 2006-12-06 Last updated: 2014-01-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Paternal care, filial cannibalism and sexual conflict in the sand goby, Pomatoschistus minutus
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Paternal care, filial cannibalism and sexual conflict in the sand goby, Pomatoschistus minutus
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Natural and sexual selection and sexual conflict are forces shaping the evolution of reproductive behaviour, while constrained by factors like environment, physiology and life-history trade-offs. Parental care is costly both in terms of time and energy. In fish, filial cannibalism is a strategy for caring males to compensate for some of the energy loss. Human impact like eutrophication also alters the basics for animals living in that environment. It is fundamental to any species to adjust its behaviour to a changing environment. Studying sand goby males, I found trade-offs both regarding parental care allocations, like ventilation vs. predator defence, and investment in present vs. future reproductive success. Paternal sand gobies exposed to water with low oxygen levels increased their fanning effort but did not compensate by eating more eggs, even though an increased current parental effort should affect future reproductive success negatively. Investigating if patterns of filial cannibalism change with time of season, I found no correlation. Theory predicts that it should pay more to eat eggs early, when future mating potential is higher than late in the season. However, as early hatching fry are likely to gain higher fitness through larger size the next breeding season, this may provide an opposing selection pressure. In species with male care the only way a female can affect the level of post-spawning care is by choosing a good mate. A female preference to spawn in nests that already contain eggs of other females has been interpreted as a means to avoid filial cannibalism through a dilution effect or to decrease the costs of search time. Yet, in my study females did not avoid filial cannibalism by preferring large clutches to small ones. Oxygenation of the eggs might be a key factor, since both large and small females preferred spawning in nests with small clutches. Thus, as in most animals, trade-offs clearly govern the reproductive behaviour of sand gobies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Zoologiska institutionen, 2006. 100 p.
Keyword
female choice, filial cannibalism, Gobiidae, parental care, Pomatoschistus minutus, sand goby, sexual conflict, sexual selection
National Category
Biological Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-1399 (URN)91-7155-357-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2007-01-19, sal G, Arrheniuslaboratorierna, Svante Arrhenius väg 14-18, Stockholm, 10:00
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Available from: 2006-12-06 Created: 2006-12-06Bibliographically approved

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