Being paired with larger males make female convict cichlids work harder at brood care, according to a study published in the most recent issue of the journal Current Zoology.
Studying the convict cichlid Amatitlania siquia of the Cabuyo River in Costa Rica, Ashley Robart made in situ observations (lasting 10 minutes each) of the nest guarding behaviour of spawning pairs of cichlids, before capturing both parents and fry to measure them.
She found that female cichlids paired with larger males displayed more frequently to nest intruders. At the same time, as the size difference between the (larger) male and female cichlids increased, the females chased intruders more frequently while the males displayed to intruders less frequently.
There is thus a correlation between mate quality and the amount of parental care in Convict cichlids, with females increasing and males decreasing parental effort as the quality of the male increases.
Increased female investment may also provide an incentive to ensure male care and maintain pair bonding, which could lead to greater reproductive success through increased offspring survival.
For more information, see the paper: Robart, AR (2012) Effect of mate size on maternal reproductive effort in the convict cichlid Amatitlania siquia. Current Zoology 58, pp. 66–72.
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