The significance of biparental care in the brown bullhead, Ictalurus nebulosus

TitleThe significance of biparental care in the brown bullhead, Ictalurus nebulosus
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1985
AuthorsBlumer LSteven
JournalEnvironmental Biology of Fishes

Parental care in the brown bullhead is characterized by variation in the participation of each sex. Most broods are attended by both sexes, but some are attended by a male alone, or rarely, a female alone. Two care-givers were more successful than one alone in fostering offspring survival. However, there was no significant difference between two care-givers and one alone in the proportion of time that broods were unattended. Potential brood predators were chased less frequently by one adult alone than by adults aided by their mate. This difference may be unimportant since two adults simultaneously attended their brood only 19% of the time. Males alone attended their broods a significantly greater proportion of time than did either males or females aided by their mates. This difference suggests that males alone sustain a greater cost of care-giving (starvation and therefore reduced future reproduction) than do males aided by their mates. Thus, males alone may more often leave broods (and not return) than males that are aided in care-giving. The differential success observed may be due to a difference in the likelihood that the male (the principal care-giver) leaves the brood permanently, rather than differences in the quality of care one or two adults provide. I suggest that two care-givers are more successful than one because the net benefits of care-giving exceed the net benefits of leaving for males when aided by their mates.