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Effects of Parent and Offspring Food Rations On Parental Care in the Convict Cichlid Fish (Pisces, Cichlidae)

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Animals may provide more care for their young under certain environmental conditions. For instance, if food is plentiful parents may invest more in the current brood than if food is scarce, assuming that food abundance is correlated with parent and offspring condition. In this experiment, we manipulated food levels (low vs high) for both parents and offspring to determine if parental care is influenced by parental and/or offspring condition in the convict cichlid, Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum. Parents which were fed a higher ration gained weight, whereas parents fed a lower ration lost weight. Similarly, young which were fed a higher ration were significantly larger than young fed a lower ration. Parents which were fed a higher ration defended their brood more vigorously than parents fed a lower ration. Offspring condition had little effect on parental care. Furthermore, females consistently invested more than males. The results show that parental convict cichlids adjust care in response to their own food supply rather than that of their offspring.

Affiliations: 1: (Department of Biology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6


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