Food access, brood size and filial cannibalism in the fantail darter, Etheostoma flabellare

Kai Lindström*, R. Craig Sargent

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


We compared the occurrence of filial cannibalism in fed and starved male fantail darters (Etheostoma flabellare). All males in the experiment consumed eggs, and 56% ate all of their eggs. A male's initial body condition did not explain the number of eggs that he ate. Neither did non-fed males eat more eggs than fed males. Fed males were able to maintain better body condition during the experiment, but the change in body condition also depended on the number of eggs eaten. Thus, males who ate more eggs were able to maintain better body condition.The most important determinant of whether or not a male ate all of his eggs was his initial egg number. Males with small egg masses ate all of their eggs whereas males with large egg masses were only partial cannibals. There was, however, no difference in the total number of eggs eaten by total and partial cannibals. We conclude that eggs are only partially eaten for energetic reasons. We also suggest that small egg masses are completely consumed because the costs of caring for a small egg mass may exceed the expected reproductive benefits of a small egg mass.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-110
Number of pages4
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1997
Externally publishedYes
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Brood size
  • Condition change
  • Etheostoma flabellare
  • Filial cannibalism
  • Paternal care


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