Intraspecific brood adoption in convict cichlids : a mutual benefit
- Cite this article as:
- Wisenden, B.D. & Keenleyside, M.H.A. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (1992) 31: 263. doi:10.1007/BF00171681
Convict cichlids (Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum) are biparental, substrate brooding cichlid fish which have extended care of their eggs, larvae (wrigglers) and free-swimming young (fry). Field observations indicate that intraspecific brood adoption of fry occurs frequently under natural conditions. Of 232 broods 29% contained foreign fry and of 232 broods 15% were identified as fry donors. Foreign fry were usually of similar size to or smaller than the host brood fry. Experimental fry transfers showed that parents accept foreign fry smaller than their own but immediately reject or eat foreign fry larger than their own. A predation experiment showed that within a mixed brood, smaller fry are eaten more often than larger fry. Thus, accepting foreign fry may benefit parents through the dilution effect and through a differential predation effect. In comparison with intact families, broods from which the male parent was removed were less likely to reach independence, had fewer fry surviving to independence, and had a greater probability of having some fry transferred to neighbouring broods. We propose that intraspecific brood adoption in convict cichlids is mutually beneficial to the adult donors and recipients.