Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 223–251

The evolution of parental care in fishes, with reference to Darwin's rule of male sexual selection

  • Jeffrey R. Baylis

DOI: 10.1007/BF00002788

Cite this article as:
Baylis, J.R. Environ Biol Fish (1981) 6: 223. doi:10.1007/BF00002788


A simple two part hypothesis is proposed to describe the sources of selection influencing the evolution of parental care in fishes. It is derived in part from the observation that most fishes exhibiting complex patterns of parental behavior are freshwater forms. The first aspect of the hypothesis assumes that differential zygote mortality occurs in spatially and temporally varying environments. The second assumes that rates of gametogenesis are faster in males than in females. These aspects interact to generate a series of predictions: 1. When the zygote requires an external resource such as an optimal site for development, and that resource is scarce relative to the breeding population and is reusable, the male should monopolize it (male reproductive territoriality). 2. When bearing is derived from male guarding, the male will be the bearer. 3. When bearing evolves from a condition other than male guarding, the female will be favored as the bearer and the male will be favored as the gamete donor. 4. In all of the above cases except male bearing, the males reproductive success is limited primarily by the number of females he can attract rather than his own rate of gamete production and hence the male will tend to be the sexually selected sex. These and other predictions are tested against the existing literature on reproduction in fishes, and competing hypotheses are critically reviewed.


Teleosts Behavior Reproduction Nest building Sperm competition Territoriality Gametogenesis 

Copyright information

© Dr W. Junk Publishers 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey R. Baylis
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA

Personalised recommendations