Costs and benefits of polyandry in a placental poeciliid fish Heterandria formosa are in accordance with the parent–offspring conflict theory of placentation


Outi Ala-Honkola, Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, PO Box 35, FI-40014 University of Jyväskylä, Finland.
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In viviparous species, a conflict over maternal resource allocation may arise between mothers and embryos, between siblings, and between maternal and paternal genes within an embryo due to relatedness asymmetries. We performed two experiments to study the effects of polyandry and brood relatedness on offspring growth in a placental fish (Heterandria formosa). Polyandry was beneficial as it increased the probability of pregnancy, possibly to avoid genetic incompatibility. However, females mated to four males produced offspring that had a longer maturation time than those of monandrous females. When within-brood relatedness was manipulated, the size of the newborn offspring decreased with time in low-relatedness treatment, whereas in highly related broods, offspring size was constant. Low within-brood relatedness may lead to less cooperative offspring in terms of resource extraction from the mother, which may lead to impaired development during gestation. Offspring conflict may thus reduce the benefits of polyandry in viviparous species.