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S. Balshine-Earn (1997)

The benefits of uniparental versus biparental mouth brooding in Galilee St. Peter’s fish

Journal of Fish Biology, 50:371-381.

In Galilee St. Peter’s fish Sarotherodon galilaeus the care system is naturally labile; biparental, male-only and female-only care all exist in one population. This unusual flexibility facilitates comparisons between the forms of care. The costs of parental care were considered in a previous study. Here, the benefits of parental care were quantified by observing wild fish, both held in pond enclosures and free-swimming in Lake Kinneret, Israel. Parental care was shown to be essential for offspring survival in St. Peter’s fish. The reproductive success of parents who shared incubation duties was nearly twice as high as that of parents caring alone. However, per brood (or mouth cavity) reproductive success was 20% higher for uniparental parents. Both sexes were equally capable and efficient in care; when both sexes cared, they each incubated a similar number of eggs and released a similar number of fry. The results are discussed in terms of the relationship between caring strategies and clutch size.