Advertisement

Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 30, Issue 3–4, pp 201–206 | Cite as

Egg cannibalism by sticklebacks: spite or selfishness?

  • Gerard J. FitzGerald
Article

Summary

Although it is generally agreed that humans can be spiteful, there are few if any, unambiguous examples of spite by non-human animals. Data are presented suggesting that female threespine sticklebacks show spiteful behaviour. In the field, they seek out conspecific eggs to attack while largely ignoring those of a closely-related sympatric species, the blackspotted stickleback. This occurs despite the fact that the latter's nests are more abundant and less well protected. In the laboratory, female threespine sticklebacks attack the eggs of conspecifics more than those of blackspotted sticklebacks, those of sympatric conspecific females more than those of allopatric females, and older eggs more than younger ones. Because there was no evidence of greater energetic or nutritional advantages from eating conspecific rather than heterospecific eggs, or older eggs rather than younger ones, threespine sticklebacks may be spiteful. Alternative proximate and evolutionary hypotheses to explain this discriminant egg-eating are discussed.

Keywords

Sympatric Species Threespine Stickleback Evolutionary Hypothesis Conspecific Female Nutritional Advantage 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Baur B (1988) Egg-species recognition in cannibalistic hatchlings of the land snail Arianta arbustorum and Helix pomatia. Experientia 44:276–277Google Scholar
  2. Belles-Isles J-C, FitzGerald GJ (in press) A fitness advantage of cannibalism in threespine sticklebacks. Ethol Ecol EvolGoogle Scholar
  3. Belles-Isles J-C, Cloutier D, FitzGerald GJ (1990) Female cannibalism and male courtship tactics in threespine sticklebacks. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 26:363–368Google Scholar
  4. Black D, Love RM (1988) Estimating the carbohydrate reserves in fish. J Fish Biol 32:335–340Google Scholar
  5. Bolduc F, FitzGerald GJ (1989) The role of selected environmental factors and sex ratio upon egg production in the threespine stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus. Can J Zool 67:2013–2020Google Scholar
  6. Boulé V, FitzGerald GJ (1989) Effects of constant and fluctuating temperatures on egg production in the threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Can J Zool 67:1599–1602Google Scholar
  7. DeMartini EE (1987) Parental defence, cannibalism, and polygamy: factors influencing reproductive success in painted greenlings (Pisces: Hexagrammidae). Anim Behav 35:1145–1158Google Scholar
  8. Fisher RA (1930) The genetical theory of natural selection. Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  9. FitzGerald GJ (1983) The reproductive ecology and behavior of three sympatric sticklebacks (Gasterosteidae) in a saltmarsh. Biol Behav 8:67–79Google Scholar
  10. FitzGerald GJ (1991) The role of cannibalism in the reproductive ecology of the threespine stickleback. Ethology 89:177–194Google Scholar
  11. FitzGerald GJ, van Havre N (1987) The adaptive significance of cannibalism in sticklebacks (Gasterosteidae: Pisces). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 20:295–300Google Scholar
  12. FitzGerald GJ, Whoriskey FG (1992) Empirical studies of cannibalism in fishes. In: Elgar MA, Crespi BJ (eds) Cannibalism: ecology and evolution among diverse taxa. Oxford University Press, Oxford New York Tokyo, pp 239–256Google Scholar
  13. FitzGerald GJ, Whoriskey FG, Morrissette J, Marding M (in press) Habitat scale, female cannibalism, and male reproductive success in threespine sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Behav Ecol (in press)Google Scholar
  14. Fox L (1975) Cannibalism in natural populations. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 6:87–106Google Scholar
  15. Gaudreault A, FitzGerald GJ (1985) Field observations of intraspecific and interspecific aggression among sticklebacks (Gasterosteidae). Behaviour 94:203–211Google Scholar
  16. Gilbert SF (1985) Developmental biology. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA, USAGoogle Scholar
  17. Hamilton WD (1970) Selfish and spiteful behaviour in an evolutionary model. Nature 228:1218–1220Google Scholar
  18. Hamilton WD (1971) Selection of selfish and altruistic behavior in some extreme models. In: Eisenberg JF, Dillon WS (eds) Man and beast: comparative social behavior. Smithsonian Press, Washington, DC, pp 57–91Google Scholar
  19. Hausfater G, Blaffer-Hrdy S (eds) (1984) Infanticide: Comparative and evolutionary perspective. Aldine Publishing Co, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  20. Hislop JRG, Bell MA (1987) Observations on the size, dry weight and energy content of the eggs of some demersal fish species from British marine waters. J Fish Biol 31:1–20Google Scholar
  21. Knowlton N, Parker GA (1979) An evolutionary stable strategy approach to indiscriminate spite. Nature 279:419–421Google Scholar
  22. Kynard BE (1979) Breeding behaviour of a lacustrine population of threespine sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus L.). Behaviour 67:178–207Google Scholar
  23. Nikolsky GV (1963) The ecology of fishes. Academic Press Inc, LondonGoogle Scholar
  24. Pierotti R (1980) Spite and altruism in gulls. Am Nat 117:290–300Google Scholar
  25. Pierotti R (1982) Spite, altruism, and semantics: a reply to Waltz. Am Nat 119:116–120Google Scholar
  26. Polis GA (1981) The evolution and dynamics of intraspecific predation. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 12:225–251Google Scholar
  27. Polis GA (1988) Exploitation competition and the evolution of interference, cannibalism, and intraguild predation in age/size-structured populations. In: Ebenman B, Persson L (eds) Size-structured populations. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg, pp 185–202Google Scholar
  28. Rothstein SI (1979) Gene frequencies and selection for inhibitory traits with special emphasis on the adaptiveness of territoriality. Am Nat 113:317–331Google Scholar
  29. Scrimshaw NS (1945) Embryonic development in poeciliid fishes. Biol Bull 88:233–246Google Scholar
  30. Smith R, Whoriskey FG (1988) Multiple clutches: female sticklebacks lose the ability to recognize their own eggs. Anim Behav 36:1838–1839Google Scholar
  31. Trivers RL (1985) Social evolution. The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company Inc, Menlo Park, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  32. Vickery WL, Whoriskey FG, FitzGerald GJ (1988) On the evolution of nest-raiding and male defensive behaviour in sticklebacks (Pisces: Gasterosteidae). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 22:185–193Google Scholar
  33. Waltz EC (1981) Reciprocal altruism and spite in gulls: a comment. Am Nat 118:588–592Google Scholar
  34. Whoriskey FG (1984) Le rôle de facteurs choisis: biotiques et abiotiques dans la structuration d'une communauté d'épinoches (Pisces: Gasterosteidae). PhD thesis, Laval University, Canada Whoriskey FG, FitzGerald GJ (1985a) Sex, cannibalism and sticklebacks. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 18:15–18Google Scholar
  35. Whoriskey FG, FitzGerald GJ (1985b) The effects of bird predation upon an estuarine stickleback (Pisces: Gasterosteidae) community. Can J Zool 63, 301–307Google Scholar
  36. Wilson EO (1975) Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, USAGoogle Scholar
  37. Wootton RJ (1976) The biology of the sticklebacks. Academic Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  38. Wootton RJ (1990) The ecology of teleost fish. Chapman and Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  39. Worgan JP, FitzGerald GJ (1981) Diel activity and diet of three sympatric sticklebacks in tidal salt marsh pools. Can J Zool 59:2375–2379Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerard J. FitzGerald
    • 1
  1. 1.Département de biologieUniversité LavalSte. FoyCanada

Personalised recommendations