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Studies On the Behaviour of Cyprinodont Fish. Ii the Evolution of Aggressive Behaviour in Old World Rivulins

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image of Behaviour

The aggressive behaviour of eighteen species of Old World rivulins is described. The phylogenetic relationship of these species is known and thus the evolution of the behaviour patterns can be elucidated. Comparisons of behaviour were made using transition matrices and the changes in behaviour that occurred during the course of aggressive encounters. It is possible to construct an archetypal pattern of aggressive behaviour from which all existing patterns can be derived. The following types of behavioural change have occurred during evolution. a. Changes in the importance and thus the frequency of occurrence of individual elements of the behaviour. In some species certain of the elements have become eliminated from the repertoire. However the order in which the individual components of aggression reach maximum frequency during the course of encounters is essentially the same in all the species. b. The acquisition of novel transitions between elements often in the form of higher order interactions involving more than two elements. c. Changes in the form and orientation of the elements. Differences between closely related species are mainly in minor variations in frequency of elements and transitions between them; more distantly related species differ more fundamentally and thus the differences in behaviour are in accordance with the taxonomic status of the species.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, University of Edinburgh, Scotland


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