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Are small females choosier than large? – Implications for female reproductive success in a fish with paternal care and filial cannibalism
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
Manuscript (Other academic)
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-23059OAI: diva2:190012
Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-1399Available from: 2006-12-06 Created: 2006-12-06 Last updated: 2010-01-13Bibliographically 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.
female choice, filial cannibalism, Gobiidae, parental care, Pomatoschistus minutus, sand goby, sexual conflict, sexual selection
National Category
Biological Sciences
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
Available from: 2006-12-06 Created: 2006-12-06Bibliographically approved

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