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Organization of Fighting in the Polychaete Nereis Virens (Sars) and the Effects of Residency and Orientation

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image of Behaviour

Intraspecific encounters of the polychaete Nereis virens (Sars) were studied within artificial burrows in order to describe behavioural interactions that occur during the defence of the burrow. This work exploited the relationship between variability in contest outcomes and fighting behavioural sequences as a function of different types of encounters. In addition, the effects of resident orientation, duration of resident occupancy (acclimatization) and initial distance of the intruder anterior end from the resident (head or tail) were all included. The eviction frequency was significantly greater in the presence of acclimated individuals. Acclimatization reduced chances of cohabitation between two individuals within the same burrow. However, the importance of the acclimatization was greater in head to head ("H-H") encounters as opposed to head to tail("H-T") encounters. Encounters within a 15 cm distance separating each individuals showed that intruders were expelled in all "H-H" cases (100%) in contrast to 32% in "H-T" encounters. No significant difference was noticed between "H-H" and "H-T" encounters where the initial distance was greater than 15 cm. Fights were settled, on average, in 10 minutes with acclimated individuals in contrast to less than 2 minutes with non-acclimated worms. Behavioural sequences, for agonistic encounters, were more complex in residents than for intruders. Complexity in patterns was also greater for non-acclimated worms.

Affiliations: 1: ) GIROQ Département de Biologie, Université Laval, Ste-Foy, Québec, Canada, GIK 7P4.; 2: (Groupe de Recherche en Océanographie Côtière, Département d'Océanographie, Uni-versité du Québec à Rimouski, 310 Allée des Ursulines, Rimouski, Québec, Canada G5L 3A1; 3: ) GIROQ Département de Biologie, Université Laval, Ste-Foy, Québec, Canada, GIK 7P4., ) Laboratoire Maritime, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, 17 avenue George V - B.P. 28, 35801 Dinard, France


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