Effects of costs and benefits of brood care on filial cannibalism in the sand goby

Kai Lindström*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


This study tested experimentally whether clutch size and the cost of care affect filial cannibalism in the sand goby, Pomatoschistus minutus. Evolutionary models of filial Cannibalism suggest that egg eating has evolved as a way for the male parent to prolong his breeding season. These models assume that eggs function as an alternative energy source for the constrained parent. I manipulated clutch size by allowing males to mate with either one or two females, representing a small and a large clutch, respectively. The addition of a small male shore crab, a common egg predator, increased the cost of care. I quantified fat reserves as a measure of the condition of guarding males. Males who did not build nests had lower fat reserves than males who built nests, suggesting that males with low energy reserves do not start breeding. Males with small clutches lost their nest to the crab more often than males with large clutches. Neither filial cannibalism nor the amount of eggs eaten were affected by the treatments. Males who consumed eggs had a higher fat percentage than males who did not eat eggs. The result that males with small clutches lost their nests to the crabs supports the idea that eggs are defended only if the benefit from continued care will outweigh the cost and that males therefore are sensitive to the trade-off between present and future reproductive success.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-106
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1998
Externally publishedYes
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Brood size
  • Fat reserves
  • Filial cannibalism
  • Parental care
  • Pomatoschistus minutus


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of costs and benefits of brood care on filial cannibalism in the sand goby'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this