Aggression plays an important role in animal contests, but the extent to which aggression correlates with dominance has been a topic of much debate. The relationship between aggression and dominance ability in the hermaphroditic fish, Rivulus marmoratus, was investigated using three standard protocols, the mirror test (Mi), model test (Mo), and standard opponent test (So). In each, display latency, attack latency, and biting frequency were quantified for a test individual towards its opponent. The general rank-order for eliciting strength of the three different stimuli was Mi > So > Mo. The relationships between the individual indices from the standard tests and three dyadic contest variables, initiator of display, initiator of attack, and winner, were analysed in contests between previously tested pairs to ascertain how well the standard protocols predicted dyadic contest behaviour/outcome. Display and attack latencies in the standard tests did not predict the level of analogous combat behaviour. Biting frequency differences between individuals in a pair in the So and Mo tests as well as display latency differences in the Mi test contributed to predictions of contest outcome. The individual that scored higher, relative to its opponent, won a significantly greater proportion of the bouts. These findings demonstrate the importance of relative differences in aggression in determining dominance. However, the predictive value of standard test behaviour is test-specific and, based on the available literature, depends on both the species used and the context in which they are employed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology