Food access, brood size and filial cannibalism in the fantail darter, Etheostoma flabellare

Kai Lindström, R. Craig Sargent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


We compared the occurrence of filial cannibalism in fed and starved male fantail darters (Etheostoma flabellare). All males in the experiment consumed eggs, and 56% ate all of their eggs. A male's initial body condition did not explain the number of eggs that he ate. Neither did non-fed males eat more eggs than fed males. Fed males were able to maintain better body condition during the experiment, but the change in body condition also depended on the number of eggs eaten. Thus, males who ate more eggs were able to maintain better body condition.The most important determinant of whether or not a male ate all of his eggs was his initial egg number. Males with small egg masses ate all of their eggs whereas males with large egg masses were only partial cannibals. There was, however, no difference in the total number of eggs eaten by total and partial cannibals. We conclude that eggs are only partially eaten for energetic reasons. We also suggest that small egg masses are completely consumed because the costs of caring for a small egg mass may exceed the expected reproductive benefits of a small egg mass.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-110
Number of pages4
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1997

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements The research was funded by the Finnish Academy to K.L. and NSF grant BSR-89-18871 to R.C.S. Additional funds were provided by the Commonwealth of Kentucky through the Kentucky/EPSCoR Program (Aquatic Research Facility). Helpful comments on previous drafts of the manuscript were provided by Hannu Pietiäinen and Heikki Hirvonen. We are especially grateful to J. Smith for access to Shelby Branch on his property.


  • Brood size
  • Condition change
  • Etheostoma flabellare
  • Filial cannibalism
  • Paternal care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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