Life history evolution in cichlids 1: revisiting the evolution of life histories in relation to parental care


Niclas Kolm, Institute of Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological Sciences, Ashworth Laboratories, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JT, Scotland, UK.
Tel.: +441316505446; fax: + +441316506564;


Empirical links between egg size and duration of parental care in fishes have generated a considerable amount of theory concerning life history evolution. However, to date, this link has not been investigated in relation to other important life-history traits such as clutch size and body size, or while controlling for shared ancestry between species. We provide the first phylogenetically based tests using a database with information on egg size, clutch size, body size and care duration in cichlid fishes (Cichlidae). Multiple regression analyses, based on independent contrasts on both the species and the genus level, showed that clutch size is the variable most closely related to duration of care. This pattern appeared to be driven by post-hatch care relationships. Our results show that, contrary to expectation, there is no positive link between egg size and care duration in Cichlidae. Instead, greater reproductive output through increased clutch size investment appears to have coevolved with greater care of offspring. We suggest that re-evaluation of the generality of current models of the evolution of egg size under parental care in fishes is needed.