Many fish go to great lengths to protect their own offspring. But for some, like the Common Goby, males of the species can be found to sometimes eat eggs of their own kind. Why would this be?
Hypotheses have ranged quite a bit over the years, so researchers at the Tübingen’s Institute of Evolution and Ecology set out to investigate what drives the male gobies to eat their own offspring.
In general, the scientists found that more active male gobies, those with a high general level of activity, were more likely to eat eggs. But there are some specifics that should be noted.
The younger eggs are more frequently eaten by the father fish, scientists found, and those are of less reproductive value because they are less developed than their older counterparts. In addition, the young eggs are more nourishing to the adult goby. Because of these dynamics, scientists say there appears to be an adaptive behavioral scheme at play that aids the reproduction process in the long run.