Foraging behavior under the risk of predation has interested biologists for decades. Here, we examine paternal genetic effects on foraging decisions of bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) larvae sired by males adopting alternative life histories. We use split in vitro fertilization to generate maternal half‐siblings sired by either a ‘parental’ male or a ‘cuckolder’ male. Immediately, upon the switch to exogenous feeding, we fed the larvae ad libitum for 2 d. We then starved the larvae for between 12 and 17 h, following which we subjected them to a dichotomous choice foraging trial, where one side of a test tank posed a risky foraging habitat and the other posed a safe foraging habitat. Equal amounts of food were simultaneously introduced to both sides of the tank and the proportion of individuals on either side was recorded. There were significantly fewer cuckolder offspring foraging on the risky side of the tank when compared with their parental half‐siblings indicating that cuckolder offspring took fewer risks than parental offspring. These results demonstrate a paternal genetic effect (sire life history) on foraging behavior. We ruled out energetic state as a possible explanation for this difference because the half‐siblings did not differ in body length or mass. Instead, previous research suggests that cuckolder offspring have higher conversion efficiency (efficiency of converting food into soma) than parental offspring and therefore the differences in foraging behavior observed here may, in part, be attributed to genetic differences in conversion efficiency.
Daily snorkelling to find nests, eggs stripped from females, milt collected from males, female broods divided in half and fertilized eggs for trials