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Aggressive Behaviour Between Territorial Cichlids (Astatotilapia Burtoni) in Relation To Rank and Territorial Stability

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Territorial mosaics of A. burtoni were studied in the laboratory. A difference in rank between neighbouring territorial fish was usually found, with the male with higher rank exhibiting more offensive behaviour and the opponent resisting more passively. A role asymmetry in boundary disputes was found in both high- and low-intensity aggression. Linear rank orders were formed. High rank was associated with a high aggressive and sexual activity towards non-territorial fish and a high mating succes". Territorial size was larger in superior males. A superior did not, however, generally expand his territory towards an inferior. This could be due to the involvement of escalated aggression with the reduction of territory. Most males of low rank did, however, eventually lose their territories. Establishing and losing territories were correlated with a low level of low-intensity aggression. Escalated fighting seldom occurred in spite of a strong competition for females, and aggression was usually limited to Frontal display and low-intensity aggression. Frontal display also played a key role for de-escalation of physical aggression. A. burtoni seems to follow the strategy "Honest", using a honestly graded display with few escalations.

Affiliations: 1: (Department of Fisheries Biology, University of Bergen, P.O. Box 1839, N-5011 Bergen, Norway


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