Paternal investment with an uncertain future: effects of predator exposure on filial cannibalism and nesting behaviour

A1 Journal article (refereed)


Internal Authors/Editors


Publication Details

List of Authors: Deal NDS, Lehtonen TK, Lindström K, Wong BBM
Publisher: Elsevier
Publication year: 2017
Journal: Animal Behaviour
Volume number: 132
Start page: 81
End page: 90


Abstract

Owing to trade-offs between investment in current and future reproduction, factors that diminish a

parent's survival prospects, such as predation threat, are expected to increase investment in existing

young. Nevertheless, effects of predation risk on parental investment have only rarely been examined,

and not at all within the context of filial cannibalism (parental consumption of their own offspring). We

examined filial cannibalism and nest characteristics in a small fish with paternal egg care, the sand goby,

Pomatoschistus minutus, both when exposed to a common piscivore, the perch, Perca fluviatilis, and in the

absence of predators. We found that when males consumed only some of their eggs (partial filial

cannibalism), the number of eaten eggs did not depend on predation threat, possibly indicating that

partial clutch consumption is largely motivated by benefits to existing young. Total filial cannibalism

(whole clutch consumption) was marginally less common under predator exposure, while its strongest

predictor was small clutch size. This suggests that the return on parental investment has a greater influence

on total filial cannibalism than the likelihood of future breeding. Regarding nest architecture,

males that consumed their entire brood after exposure to a predator built larger nest entrances, possibly

to facilitate predator evasion. Males that cared for at least part of their brood, however, maintained small

nest entrances regardless of predation threat. Furthermore, more elaborate nests were not associated

with greater egg consumption, suggesting that filial cannibalism is not employed to sustain nest building.

© 2017 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Last updated on 2019-22-09 at 04:37