Data from: Water mold infection but not paternity induces selective filial cannibalism in a goby
Vallon, Martin; Anthes, Nils; Heubel, Katja U. (2017), Data from: Water mold infection but not paternity induces selective filial cannibalism in a goby, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.1gk0m
Many animals heavily invest in parental care but still reject at least some of their offspring. Although seemingly paradoxical, selection can favor parents to neglect offspring of particularly low reproductive value, for example, because of small survival chances. We here assess whether filial cannibalism (FC), where parents routinely eat some of their own young, is selective in response to individual offspring reproductive value. We performed two independent laboratory experiments in the common goby (Pomatoschistus microps) to test whether caring fathers preferentially cannibalize eggs of a given infection history and paternity. While males did not discriminate kin from nonkin eggs, they consumed significantly more eggs previously exposed to water mold compared to uninfected eggs. Our findings clearly show that parents differentiate between eggs based on differences in egg condition, and thus complement the prevailing view that FC arises for energetic reasons. By preventing the spread of microbial infections, the removal of molded eggs can constitute an important component of parental care and may represent a key driver of selective FC in a wide array of parental fish.