Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Helpful Fish: Cooperative Cichlids Boost Their Own Reproductive Success

Date:
May 23, 2009
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Subordinate individuals living within a group of vertebrates sometimes assist a more dominant pair by helping to raise the dominant pair's offspring -- this has been shown to occur among subordinate female cichlids. Scientists suggest that rather than engaging in an act of reciprocal altruism, these subordinate females actually benefit from the care-giving they offer as the more helpful subordinates are more likely to reproduce.

A small, subordinate cichlid helps a large dominant pair to raise the dominants' offspring.
Credit: Copyright Heinz Bόscher

Subordinate individuals living within a group of vertebrates sometimes assist a more dominant pair by helping to raise the dominant pair's offspring and this has been shown to occur among subordinate female cichlids. Dik Heg and colleagues at the University of Bern, Switzerland, and the Ohio State University, suggest that rather than engaging in an act of reciprocal altruism, these subordinate females actually benefit from the care-giving they offer as the more helpful subordinates are more likely to reproduce.

Related Articles


A number of hypotheses have been proposed to explain why subordinate female cichlids (Neolamprologus pulcher) often help to raise the offspring of unrelated dominant females (a form of alloparental care). Studying small groups of unrelated individuals, Heg and colleagues found no evidence that the helping behaviour of the subordinates was an example of reciprocal altruism, even though opportunities for reciprocation among cichlids are high, as the females lay eggs about every second week—there was no correlation between the amount of care that dominants provided for their subordinates' broods and subordinates' alloparental care for dominants' broods.

The results of the study suggest that while reciprocal altruism doesn't occur, the subordinate cichlids did receive reciprocal benefits in exchange for the care they provided for the offspring of dominant pairs—a behaviour that enhanced their own chances of successfully reproducing. More specifically, a subordinate's helping behaviour ensures she gains access to the breeding substrate, on which she lays her eggs.

Heg and colleagues show that subordinates may be prepared to increase their care "payments" in return for enhancements in their own current reproductive potential (which they call the "pay-to-reproduce" hypothesis). Finally, subordinates may adjust their level of help according to parentage, at least in females

The authors suggest that this finding may also apply to other species, such as the female yellow-bellied marmot, which also adjusts its social behaviour largely to get access to direct reproduction.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Heg et al. Helpful Female Subordinate Cichlids Are More Likely to Reproduce. PLoS ONE, 2009; 4 (5): e5458 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005458

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Helpful Fish: Cooperative Cichlids Boost Their Own Reproductive Success." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090515104225.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2009, May 23). Helpful Fish: Cooperative Cichlids Boost Their Own Reproductive Success. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090515104225.htm
Public Library of Science. "Helpful Fish: Cooperative Cichlids Boost Their Own Reproductive Success." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090515104225.htm (accessed March 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

AP (Feb. 28, 2015) — Researchers following endangered killer whales spotted a baby orca off the coast of Washington state, the third birth documented this winter but still leaving the population dangerously low. (Feb. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Drinks for Your Health

The Best Drinks for Your Health

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) — When it comes to health and fitness, there&apos;s lots of talk about what foods to eat, but there are a few liquids that can promote good nutrition. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the healthiest drinks to boost your health! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cherries, Snap Peas and More Tasty Spring Produce

Cherries, Snap Peas and More Tasty Spring Produce

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) — From sweet cherries to sugar snap peas, spring is the peak season for some of the tastiest and healthiest produce. Krystin Goodwin (@Krystingoodwin) has the best seasonal fruits and veggies to spring in to good health! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods to Battle Stress

The Best Foods to Battle Stress

Buzz60 (Feb. 26, 2015) — If you&apos;re dealing with anxiety, there are a few foods that can help. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the best foods to tame stress. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins