Relaxed feeding constraints facilitate the evolution of mouthbrooding in Neotropical cichlids

Hannah Weller, Hernán López-Fernández, Caleb McMahan & Elizabeth Brainerd
Multifunctionality is often framed as a core constraint of phenotypic evolution. Mouthbrooding, a form of parental care where offspring develop inside a parent’s mouth, increases multifunctionality by adding a major function (reproduction) to a structure already serving other vital functions (feeding and respiration). Despite increasing multifunctionality, mouthbrooding has evolved repeatedly from other forms of parental care in at least 7 fish families. We hypothesized that mouthbrooding is more likely to evolve in lineages with feeding...
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