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

Gravel, M. A., Cooke, S. J.
Environmental biology of fishes 2013 v.96 no.1 pp. 93-107
Micropterus dolomieu, electromyography, energy, energy use and consumption, fish, lakes, males, nesting, nests, parents, predation, progeny, proximate composition, telemetry
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.