Parental care in the rocky intertidal: a case study of adaptation and exaptation in Mediterranean and Atlantic blennies
- 1) Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Grupo de Estudos Eto-Ecológicos, Rua Jardim do Tabaco, 44, PT-1100, Lisboa, Portugal
- 2) Departamento de Oceanografia e Pescas, Universidade dos Açores, PT-9900, Horta (Açores), Portugal
The main features of the behavioural ecology of rocky intertidal species are compared both within families — though concentrated on blennies — and between habitats. It is suggested that, at the behavioural level, the reduction of vertical and swimming elements in the male sexual and agonistic displays of Blennioidei may constitute an adaptation to typical intertidal conditions, especially in those species that inhabit areas exposed to strong wave action. The other aspect which is discussed is the prevalence of parental care in rocky intertidal fishes. In these fishes parental care is much more frequent than for marine fishes as a whole. Taken alone, this could also suggest that guarding evolved as an adaptation during the process of colonization of these habitats. The hypothesis proposed in this paper is that guarding was already present in the ancestors of the resident species, at least in the majority of cases. Many differences in interhabitat studies may express the action of the environment, not as an agent of natural selection, but as a filter, which prevented some groups from invading a given habitat and, at the same time, made colonization easier for other groups. When a number of taxa that colonized a given habitat display clear similarities in their behaviour and their biology, adaptation is not necessarily demonstrated. There is evidence in the literature to support the hypothesis that those traits were already present in the ancestors of the rocky intertidal resident fishes, thus being best viewed as exaptations.
- 1 - sciences appliquees, technologies et medecines
- 2 - sciences biologiques et medicales
- 3 - sciences biologiques fondamentales et appliquees. psychologie