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 October 25, 2014 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 October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) — Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) — Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) — One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
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