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K. Hick, A.R. Reddon, C.M. O'Connor, and Sigal Balshine (2014)

Strategic and tactical fighting decisions in cichlid fishes with divergent social systems

Behavior, 1:47-71.


BehaviourBRILL Behaviour 151 (2014) 47—71

Strategie and tactical fighting decisionwith divergent social systems

Kristina Hicka, Adam R. Reddonb, Constance M. O Sigal Balshineb

a Department of Biology, McMaster University, 1280 Mai Hamilton, ON, Canada L8S 4K1

b Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, Mc1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON, Canada L8S 4* Corresponding author's e-mail address: coconn@mcm

Accepted 9 August 2013; published online 2 October


The costs and benefits of engaging in a contest will differ depending on the social situation of the individuals involved. Therefore, understanding contest behaviour can help to elucidate the trade offs of living in differing social systems and shed light on the evolution of social behaviour. In the current study, we compared contest behaviour in two closely related species of Lamprologine cichlid fish. Neolamprologus pulcher and Telmatochromis temporalis are both pair-breeding cich lids, but N. pulcher are highly social, group-living fish, while T. temporalis display no grouping behaviour. To examine how competition varies by species, sex and familiarity, we staged same-sex conspecific contests over a shelter, a resource that is highly valued by both species, where contes tants were either familiar or unfamiliar to one another. When we examined tactical and strategic components of these contests, we found that the highly social species had shorter contests and engaged in fewer costly aggressive acts than did the non-social species. Individuals of the highly social species were also more likely to resolve conflicts through the use of submissive displays, while individuals of the non-social species were more likely to flee from conflict. Familiarity in creased the use of submissive displays in the highly social species but not in the less social species. Our findings suggest that conflict resolution behaviour and dominance hierarchy formation are fundamentally linked to the evolution of complex social s