The Parental Investment Conflict in Continuous Time: St. Peter’s Fish as an Example

Osnat Yaniv & Uzi Motro

The parental investment conflict considers the question of how much each sex should invest in each brood, thereby characterizing different animal groups. Each such group usually adopts a certain parental care pattern: female-care only, male-care only, biparental care, or even no parental care at all. The differences in care patterns are usually explained by the different costs and benefits arising from caring for the offspring in each animal group. This paper proposes a game-theoretical model to the parental investment conflict based on the parental behavior in Cichlid fish. Cichlid fish exhibit different parental care patterns, allowing the examination of the factors which determine the particular behavior in each mating. We present a continuous time, two-stage, asymmetric game, with two types of players: male and female. According to the model’s results, three parental care patterns: male-only care, female-only care and biparental care, are possible Evolutionarily Stable Strategies. Fixation depends on the investment costs and benefits, and on the initial conditions of the game. These results may explain the different parental care patterns observed in di erent animal groups as well as in Cichlid fish.

December, 2002
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