Diet and cannibalism in plainfin midshipmanPorichthys notatus
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The macroscopic and microscopic diversity of potential food items available in the nests of plainfin midshipman Porichthys notatus were quantified and compared with items that were found in the stomach and intestine (digestive tract) of the guarding males. In this species, males occur as one of two possible reproductive morphs: guarder males that care for young and sneaker males that parasitize the courtship and care of guarder males. Although it was predicted that guarder males would have fewer feeding opportunities due to their confinement to the nest, they in fact had more food items in their digestive tracts than did sneaker males and females. Date in the breeding season (a proxy of care duration) and body condition were not correlated with the amount of food consumed by guarder males. The main type of food consumed was P. notatus embryos; 69% of all guarder males sampled had cannibalized offspring. By comparing the diet of both sexes and tactics, this study sheds light on some of the strategies designed to cope with the costs of providing parental care.
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