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?



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.


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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

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