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Determinants of Dominance in Male Sticklebacks (Gasterosteus Aculeatus L.)

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When two males of the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus L.) in reproductive condition are placed in a tank of small size, one becomes dominant over the other in a very short time. In this way a group of isolated reproductive males were tested pairwise on their capacity to become dominant. It appeared that the males could be arranged in a linear order of dominance. Their rank was to some extent correlated with their territorial aggressiveness as assessed in other tests. Their experience in previous dominance tests played a more important role. The brightness of their colouration, however, was probably the most consistent and decisive determinant of dominance. The interaction of colour and experience could be traced in the outcome of the dominance tests. The occurrence of roundabout fighting is discussed.

Affiliations: 1: Dept. of Ethology, Zoological Laboratory, University of Leiden, The Netherlands


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