Behaviour 2019
Female-female conflict is higher during periods of parental care in a group-living cichlid fish
Aneesh P. H. Bose1,2,3, Paul Nührenberg1,2,3, Alex Jordan1,2,3. 1Department of Collective Behaviour, Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, Konstanz, , Germany; 2Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour, University of Konstanz, Konstanz, , Germany; 3Department of Biology, University of Konstanz, Konstanz, , Germany

Parental care can be associated with altered social relationships, yet little is known about how the structure of the broader social environment is modulated by individuals caring for offspring. Here, we compared the social environments of wild Neolamprologus multifasciatus breeding groups in which dependent offspring were either present or absent. Females of this fish care for offspring within their group’s territory, and we used two methods to characterize the social environment in each group: i) behavioural scoring to quantify interactions among group members, and ii) automated, computer-assisted, visual detection to track the fish on their territories. Groups with dependent offspring showed heightened female-female aggression, as well as increased aggression by dominant males towards non-caring females. Tracking data revealed that although caregiving females expand their space-use, female home ranges almost never overlap with one another. By combining two complementary approaches for characterizing the social environment we were able to show how periods of parental care can be associated with marked differences in the makeup of breeding groups’ social environments.