Cichlid infanticide

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Neolamprologus pulcher. Photo from http://www.cichlids.com/.

Ever watch shows on the Animal Planet or National Geographic cable/satellite channels that focus on lions and that document the dynamics of the pride? If so, then you’re familiar with the practice of adult lion males, who take over an existing pride, killing the young cubs that are offsprings from the former male pride leader. This is mammalian infanticide. One reason this occurs is that by killing the young, particularly those still nursing, the new male gains a genetic advantage within the pride, and the behavior accelerates a female’s ability to breed again.

Did you know infanticide also occurs with cichlids (not to be confused with normal predatory behavior)? A main difference is that infanticide in cichlid groups is egg cannibalism. Neoplamprologus pulcher is one species that has demonstrated infanticide as a reproductive strategy. As reported in this paper, experiments showed that egg cannibalism by N. pulcher males involved in group takeovers occurs more frequently than any cannibalism by the regular group male.

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