Territorial aggression reduces vigilance but increases aggression towards predators in a cooperatively breeding fish

Hess, Sybille, Fischer, Stefan, and Taborsky, Barbara (2016) Territorial aggression reduces vigilance but increases aggression towards predators in a cooperatively breeding fish. Animal Behaviour, 113. pp. 229-235.

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Abstract

In many species, aggressive individuals outcompete their less aggressive conspecifics for resources such as food and access to mates. Nevertheless, variation in aggression is maintained in populations, but the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Here we tested the hypothesis that aggressive behaviours compromise the antipredator behaviour of prey, which would link aggressive behaviours to a cost of predation. We presented computer-animated images of predators to the cooperatively breeding cichlid fish Neolamprologus pulcher either during territorial contests with a group of territory intruders or when the test fish were alone. We investigated their response latencies and the behaviour directed towards predator images. We found that test fish responded to the predator images significantly later during territorial contests than when they were alone. Moreover, during territorial contests, response latencies of test fish increased with increasing levels of aggression towards conspecifics. Test fish also responded more aggressively to the predator images during territorial contests than when they were alone. During territorial contests, fish that responded later to the predator images were more aggressive towards these images. Our findings suggest that territorial contests compromised the ability of prey to respond quickly to predators. However, we propose that increased aggression towards predators might increase survival chances of prey during predator encounters in nature, and it may thus compensate for costs incurred by delayed predator responses during territorial contests. To test this hypothesis experiments under natural predation regimes that examine the relationship between predation risk, territorial and antipredator aggression are required.

Item ID: 49296
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1095-8282
Keywords: antipredator behaviour, cichlid fish, computer animation, predation risk, territory defence, trade-off
Funders: Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), Fondation Pierre Mercier
Projects and Grants: SNSF 31003A-156881, SNSF P2BEP3_155614
Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2017 05:22
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060801 Animal Behaviour @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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