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Agonistic Behaviour and the Development of Dominance Hierarchies in the Freshwater Prawn, Macrobrachium Australiense Holthuis, 1950 (Crustacea: Palaemonidae)

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Two 'investigative', nine 'aggressive', and three 'avoidance' postures were recognised and described during observation of agonistic interactions in the feshwater prawn, Macrobrachium australiense. Stable dominance hierarchies were quickly developed in groups of three captive prawns (often within 30 minutes of initial contact). In both sexes larger individuals usually dominated smaller ones and males usually dominated females of the same size. A subdominate (beta) prawn positioned itself as far as possible from the dominant (alpha) prawn. The subordinate (gamma) prawn was relegated to a position between the alpha and beta prawns. This indicates that individual recognition or recognition of aggressive state of conspecifics may occur and the positioning of the gamma individual between alpha and beta prawns reduces the number of agonistic interactions between the two more dominant prawns.

Affiliations: 1: (Department of Zoology, The University of Queensland, St Lucia 4067, Australia

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