Prior contest experience exerts a long-term influence on subsequent winner and loser effects

Yi Ting Lan, Yuying Hsu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Animals are capable of using information from recent experiences to modify subsequent behavioral responses. Animals' ability or propensity to modify their behavior in the light of new information has repeatedly been shown to correlate with, or be influenced by, either their intrinsic competitive ability or their dominance experience - an influence which can be long-lasting. Using a mangrove killifish, Kryptolebias marmoratus, as the study organism, we investigated whether and if so how the effect of a winning or a losing experience one day prior to a dyadic contest was modulated by both competitive ability measured two months previously and a winning or losing experience forced on the contestants one month previously.Results: Winning/losing experience forced on the fish one month previously affected how they utilized information from their winning/losing experience one day before Test Day: Individuals that were randomly assigned a losing experience one month previously were more susceptible to the influence of their 1-day winning/losing experience than those assigned a winning experience. Competitive ability measured two months previously, winning/losing experience from one month previously and the winning/losing experience received one day previously all significantly influenced the fish's contest behaviors on Test Day, although only 2-month competitive ability significantly influenced escalation duration, indicating that it was still a good index for the fish's competitive ability two months later.Conclusions: These results suggest that the value to the fish of information from a recent win or loss depends on the outcome of their past contests and show that contest experience has a long-term effect on contest behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number28
JournalFrontiers in Zoology
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Nov 3


  • Animal contest
  • Fighting ability
  • Information
  • Kryptolebias marmoratus
  • Winner-loser effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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