Filial cannibalism in fishes: Why do parents eat their offspring?

Trends Ecol Evol. 1992 Jan;7(1):7-10. doi: 10.1016/0169-5347(92)90190-M.


Filial cannibalism (the eating of one's own offspring) occurs in a variety of taxa, but is especially prevalent in fishes with parental care. Recent research supports a central tenet of parental-investment theory; that is, parents consume their offspring when it maximizes their lifetime reproductive success. This review outlines the theoretical framework used to explain the adaptive significance of filial cannibalism, evaluates experimental studies to test some predictions of this theory and discusses how the occurrence of filial cannibalism affects other aspects of a species' reproductive ecology.