Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Honey I Moved the Kids: Division of Labor and Fitness Benefits in a Biparental Cichlid Fish




College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Parental care is an important form of social behavior that increases offspring fitness. Unlike most fishes, convict cichlids (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus) form mate bonds and exhibit long-term, biparental care. Because such parental care might yield specialized behavior, i.e., division of labor, males and females might contribute to offspring fitness in different ways. We quantified parental behaviors of females and males to determine whether they differed in (a) amount or type of contact with offspring and (b) time spent near offspring. We also sampled microbes from embryos, fry, and female and male parents, from which we extracted, amplified and examined bacterial DNA (DGGE electrophoresis) to explore whether parental contact contributed to transmission of microbes to offspring. Females remained near broods and exhibited contact behaviors with offspring significantly more than males, and contact appears to link to the microbial flora of fry. Because of behavioral differences, females may contribute more to transmission of beneficial microbes, while males specialize in defensive behaviors.

Conference Name

Behavior 2011 International Ethological Conference

Conference Location

Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

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