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Interaction of Predation and Intraspecific Aggression in Bluegill Sunfish Lepomis Macrochirus

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Several parameters of predatory and aggressive behaviors were measured in bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus) as a function of the social condition of the fish. Subjects were observed as 1) isolated individuals, 2) maintained pairs with complete dominance but no prior residency, and 3) temporary pairs equivalent to a resident-intruder relationship. Aggressive interactions weer also recorded during feeding sessions and during non-feeding control periods. An almost complete inhibition of feeding occurred for intruders in the temporary pairs with little or no deficit seen for submissive fish in the maintained pairs when compared to individual controls. No predatory differences were found among the dominant fish of the three groups. Aggressive behavior showed little reliable change between types of session, although all forms of aggression were much higher in the temporary pairs than in maintained pairs. In a second experiment, performed to determine the effects of the transfer procedure independent of social interaction, fish were transferred from their home tank to either an empty tank or one containing a resident conspecific. A significant decrement in predatory behavior occurred when compared to measurements taken in the home tank only when subjects were transferred to aquaria containing resident fish. The data indicated that the behavioral suppression seen in intruding subjects was due entirely to an inability to respond to both prey and aggression with the latter taking precedence. No evidence was obtained to indicate any form of motivational interdependence between the behaviors studied.

Affiliations: 1: (Department of Psychology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, U.S.A.


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