Filial cannibalism (the consumption of one's own offspring) is thought to represent an adaptive strategy in many animals. However, little is known about the details of which offspring are consumed when a parent cannibalizes. Here, we examined patterns of within-brood filial cannibalism in the sand goby (Pomatoschistus minutus). Males spawned sequentially with two females, and we asked whether males cannibalized selectively with regard to egg size or the order in which eggs were received. Males preferentially consumed the larger eggs of the second female they spawned with. Because larger eggs took longer to hatch, and because female 2's eggs were up to 1 day behind those of female 1, such preferential cannibalism might allow males to decrease the time spent caring for the current brood and re-enter the mating pool sooner. More work is needed to understand the fitness consequences of such selective cannibalism.
- parent-offspring conflict
- parental care