Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 96, Issue 1, pp 93–107 | Cite as

Does nest predation pressure influence the energetic cost of nest guarding in a teleost fish?

  • M. A. Gravel
  • S. J. Cooke


The energetic costs of providing parental care are widely documented, but rarely do studies consider the role of environmental variation (e.g., predation pressure) in this context. Here, we tested if variation in nest predation pressure influenced the energetic costs of parental care in smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu), a teleost fish species that provides lengthy paternal care. First, we documented that nest predation pressure varied among the six lakes studied and the relative predation pressure ranking was consistent across a three year period. We used a combination of traditional proximate body composition (PBC) analyses and electromyogram (EMG) telemetry to quantify activity costs of nesting fish across these populations. The traditional approach revealed declines in energy stores across the parental care period but showed no evidence of an increased energetic cost to parents from populations with higher nest predation pressure. Comparing the distribution of EMG data from the two extremes of predation pressure revealed that males from the site of highest predation spent more time at higher EMG levels relative to the parents from the lake of lowest predation pressure. Although not statistically significant, males from the site of highest predation pressure also spent 21–24 % of their time burst swimming when guarding young offspring compared to 10–11 % for males at the site of lowest predation pressure. These differences in overall activity, a large contributor to the energy use of fish, may translate into longer recovery times and decreased future reproductive opportunities.


Electromyogram telemetry Kernel density estimates Micropterus dolomieu Parental care Proximate body composition 



A special thanks to Grégory Bulté and Caleb T. Hasler for providing early comments on this manuscript and helpful suggestions. For their help in the field and laboratory, the authors would like to thank Elad Ben-Ezra, Michelle Caputo, Alison Colotelo, Laura Chomyshyn, Michael Donaldson, Patricia Halinowski, Kyle Hanson, Karen Murchie, Connie O’Connor, Rana Sunder, Graham Raby, Tara Redpath and Samantha Wilson. We would also like to acknowledge the staff at the Queen’s University Biological station, and in particular, Frank Phelan for facilitating this work. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources kindly provided scientific collection permits for this research. Research activities were supported by an NSERC Discovery Grant to SJC and by an NSERC CGSD to MAG. SJC was also supported by the Canada Research Chairs Program. All research was conducted with approval of the Canadian Council on Animal Care as administered through Carleton University.


  1. Almbro M, Kullberg C (2009) The downfall of mating: the effect of mate-carrying and flight muscle ratio on the escape ability of a pierid butterfly. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 63:413–420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Balon EK (1975) Terminology of interval in fish development. J Fish Res Board Can 32:1663–1670CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barthel BL, Cooke SJ, Svec JH, Suski CD, Bunt CM, Phelan FJS, Philipp DP (2008) Divergent life histories among smallmouth bass inhabiting a connected river-lake system. J Fish Biol 73:829–852CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bell G (1980) The costs of reproduction and their consequences. Am Nat 116:45–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bligh EG, Dyer WJ (1959) A rapid method for total lipid extraction and purification. Can J Biochem Physiol 37:911–917PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Boggs CL, Ross CL (1993) The effect of adult food limitation on life-history traits in Speyeria mormonia (Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae). Ecology 74:433–441CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boisclair D, Leggett WC (1989) The importance of activity in bioenergetics models applied to actively foraging fishes. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 46:1859–1867CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bowman AW, Azzalini A (1997) Applied smoothing techniques for data analysis: the kernel approach with s-plus illistrations. Oxford Univeristy Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. Bowman AW, Azzalini A (2010) Package ‘sm’. R Project. Accessed 20 April 2011.
  10. Carlisle TR (1982) Brood success in variable environments - Implications for parental care allocation. Anim Behav 30:824–836CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Clutton-Brock TH (1991) The evolution of parental care. Princeton University Press, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  12. Coleman RM, Gross MR, Sargent RC (1985) Parental investment decision rules - a test in bluegill sunfish. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 18:59–66Google Scholar
  13. Conway C, Martin TE (2000) Effects of ambient temperature on avian incubation behavior. Behav Ecol 11:178–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cooke SJ, McKinley RS, Philipp DP (2001) Physical activity and behavior of a centrarchid fish, Micropterus salmoides (Lacépède), during spawning. Ecol Freshw Fish 10:227–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cooke SJ, Philipp DP, Weatherhead PJ (2002) Parental care patterns and energetics of smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) and largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) monitored with activity transmitters. Can J Zool 80:56–770CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cooke SJ, Thorstad EB, Hinch SG (2004) Activity and energetics of free-swimming fish: insights from electromyogram telemetry. Fish Fish 5:21–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cooke SJ, Weatherhead PJ, Wahl DH, Philipp DP (2008) Parental care in response to natural variation in nest predation pressure in six sunfish (Centrarchidae: Teleostei) species. Ecol Freshw Fish 17:628–638CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Corkum LD, Sapota MR, Skora KE (2004) The round goby, Neogobius melanostomus, a fish invader on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Biol Invasions 6:173–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cox RM, Calsbeek R (2010) Severe costs of reproduction persist in Anolis lizards despite the evolution of a single-egg clutch. Evolution 64:1321–1330PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Crossin GT, Hinch SG (2005) A nonlethal, rapid method for assessing the somatic energy content of migrating adult pacific salmon. T Am Fish Soc 134:184–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Delope F, Gonzalez G, Perez JJ, Moller AP (1993) Increased detrimental effects of ectoparasites on their bird hosts during adverse environmental-conditions. Oecologia 95:234–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dunlop ES, Shuter BJ, Ridgway MS (2005) Isolating the influence of growth rate on maturation patterns in the smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu). Can J Fish Aquat Sci 62:844–853CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dytham C (2003) Choosing and using statistics a biologist's guide. Blackwell Science, MaldenGoogle Scholar
  24. Fitzgerald GJ, Guderley H, Picard P (1989) Hidden reproductive costs in the 3-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Exp Biol 48:295–300PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Fontaine JJ, Martel M, Markland HA, Niklison AA, Decker KL, Martin TE (2007) Testing ecological and behavioral correlates of nest predation. Oikos 116:1887–1894CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gillooly JF, Baylis JR (1999) Reproductive success and the energetic cost of parental care in male smallmouth bass. J Fish Biol 54:573–584CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gravel MA, Cooke SJ (2009) Influence of inter-lake variation in natural nest predation pressure on the parental care behaviour of smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu). Ethology 115:608–616CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gravel MA, Couture P, Cooke SJ (2010a) Comparative energetics and physiology of parental care in smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) across a latitudinal gradient. J Fish Biol 76:280–300PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gravel MA, Couture P, Cooke SJ (2010b) Brood predation pressure during parental care does not influence parental enzyme activities related to swimming activity in a teleost fish. Comp Biochem Physiol A 155:100–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Green BS, McCormick MI (2005) O-2 replenishment to fish nests: males adjust brood care to ambient conditions and brood development. Behav Ecol 16:389–397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gross MR (2005) The evolution of parental care. Q Rev Biol 80:37–45PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hale RE, St Mary CM (2007) Nest tending increases reproductive success, sometimes: environmental effects on paternal care and mate choice in flagfish. Anim Behav 74:577–588CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hamel S, Cote SD, Festa-Bianchet M (2010) Maternal characteristics and environment affect the costs of reproduction in female mountain goats. Ecology 9:2034–2043CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hanson KC, Abizaid A, Cooke SJ (2009) Causes and consequences of voluntary anorexia during the parental care period of wild male smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu). Horm Behav 56:503–509PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hinch SG, Collins NC (1991) Importance of diurnal and nocturnal nest defense in the energy budget of male smallmouth bass - Insights from direct video observations. T Am Fish Soc 120:657–663CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hutchings JA (1994) Age-specific and size-specific costs of reproduction within populations of brook trout, Salvelinus fontinalis. Oikos 70:12–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Jones JC, Reynolds JD (1999) Costs of egg ventilation for male common gobies breeding in conditions of low dissolved oxygen. Anim Behav 57:181–188PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lee SJ, Witter MS, Cuthill IC, Goldsmith AR (1996) Reduction in escape performance as a cost of reproduction in gravid starlings, Sturnus vulgaris. P Roy Soc Lond B Bio 263:619–623CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mackereth RW, Noakes DLG, Ridgway MS (1999) Size-based variation in somatic energy reserves and parental expenditure by male smallmouth bass, Micropterus dolomieu. Environ Biol Fish 56:263–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Madsen T, Shine R (2000) Energy versus risk: costs of reproduction in free-ranging pythons in tropical Australia. Austral Ecol 25:670–675CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Marconato A, Bisazza A, Fabris M (1993) The cost of parental care and egg cannibalism in the river bullhead, Cottus gobio L (Pisces, Cottidae). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 32:229–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Marleau J (2007) Eastern Ontario fishing mapbook. Mussio Ventures Ltd, TorontoGoogle Scholar
  43. Moreno J (1989) Strategies of mass change in breeding birds. Biol J Linn Soc 32:297–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Obeso JR (1993) Cost of reproduction in the perennial herb Asphodulus albus (Liliaceae). Ecography 16:365–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Philipp DP, Toline CA, Kubacki MF, Philipp DBF, Phelan FJS (1997) The impact of catch-and-release angling on the reproductive success of smallmouth bass and largemouth bass. N Am J Fish Manage 17:557–567CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Popiel SA, Perez-Fuentetaja A, McQueen DJ, Collins NC (1996) Determinants of nesting success in the pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus): a comparison of two populations under different risks from predation. Copeia 1996:649–656CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Redpath TD, Cooke SJ, Arlinghaus R, Wahl DH, Philip DP (2009) Life-history traits and energetic status in relation to vulnerability to angling in an experimentally selected teleost fish. Evol Appl 2:312–323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Reznick D (1992) Measuring the costs of reproduction. Trends Ecol Evol 7:42–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Ridgway MS (1988) Developmental stage of offspring and brood defense in smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieui). Can J Zool 66:1722–1728CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Ridgway MS, Maclean JA, Macleod JC (1991) Nest-site fidelity in a Centrarchid fish, the smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu). Can J Zool 69:3103–3105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Rose MR, Charlesworth B (1981) Genetics of life-history in Drosophilia melanogaster.2. Exploratory selection experiments. Genetics 97:187–196PubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Smedes F, Askland TK (1999) Revisiting the development of the Bligh and Dyer total lipid determination method. Mar Pollut Bull 38:193–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sokal RR, Rohlf FJ (1995) Biometry: the principles and practice of statistics in biological research. Freeman and Co, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  54. Steinhart GB, Marschall EA, Stein RA (2004) Round goby predation on smallmouth bass offspring in nests during simulated catch-and-release angling. Trans Am Fish Soc 133:121–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Steinhart GB, Sandrene ME, Weaver S, Stein RA, Marschall EA (2005) Increased parental care cost for nest-guarding fish in a lake with hyperabundant nest predators. Behav Ecol 16:427–434CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Steinhart GB, Dunlop ES, Ridgway MS, Marschall EA (2008) Should I stay or should I go? Optimal parental care decisions of a nest-guarding fish. Evol Ecol Res 10:351–371Google Scholar
  57. Townsend DS (1986) The costs of male parental care and its evolution in a neotropical frog. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 19:187–195Google Scholar
  58. Wallace CR (1972) Embryonic and larval development of smallmouth bass at 23 degrees C. Progress. Fish Cult 34:237–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Webb JN, Szekely T, Houston AI, McNamara JM (2002) A theoretical analysis of the energetic costs and consequences of parental care decisions. Philos T Roy Soc B 357:331–340CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Wiegmann DD, Baylis JR, Hoff MH (1997) Male fitness, body size and timing of reproduction in smallmouth bass, Micropterus dolomieui. Ecology 78:111–128Google Scholar
  61. Wiegmann DD, Baylis JR (1995) Male body size and parental behaviour in smallmouth bass, Micropterus dolomieui (Pisces: Centrarchidae). Anim Behav 50:1543–1555CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Zar JH (1999) Biostatistical analysis. Prentice-Hall, New JerseyGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Department of BiologyCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Institute of Environmental SciencesCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada

Personalised recommendations