Sand gobies, native to the European cost, are among 20 percent of the species of fish worldwide that display some form of care for eggs or hatchlings, the university reported Wednesday.
A team of three scientists from Florida and elsewhere report that male sand gobies work harder at building nests and taking care of eggs when females are present.
There was a dark side to the study, also. All male gobies nibbled on the eggs they were taking care of, and unaccompanied males also were more likely to gobble down entire clutches of eggs.
"We were interested in whether males would change their behavior in response to the perception that their future mating opportunities were different. We found this was the case," said Collette St. Mary, an associate professor of zoology at the University of Florida.
The experiments were reported in the current issue of the journal of Behavioral Ecology.