Adoption and alloparental care are common in many species ranging from mammals to birds to fish. The costs and benefits associated with each of these differ depending on how the behavior manifests within the species. The costs include lowering a parent’s fitness when they devote care to offspring unrelated to them. The benefits include kin selection, increased parental experience, mutual babysitting services, decreased cost of offspring care on parents, better parental care for offspring, and increased overall group breeding success. Independent work done with convict cichlid fish explored whether the fish would perform active “kidnapping” behavior in order to adopt unrelated offspring. This behavior benefits the cichlids’ related offspring through the dilution and differential predation effects. The use of adoption could be used in the conservation efforts of many endangered species. It was successfully used in African wild dogs to introduce new genes and individuals into packs that are decreasing in number. This same strategy could be used to aid in the conservation of endangered and threatened species, depending on how alloparental care and adoption manifest within those species.

Semester/Year of Award

Spring 2013


Sherry L. Harrel

Mentor Professional Affiliation

Biological Sciences

Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



Biological Sciences

IACUC Approval Number (if applicable)