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Prior Residence Effect in the Dart-Poison Frog, Dendrobates Pumilio

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Each of 32 male, Dendrobates pumilio (red phase) were allowed to establish a territory in one half of a 40 liter aquarium. Each enclosure contained a substrate of Sphagnum, a potted plant, and a water dish. Males occupying the same aquarium were prevented from seeing one another by an opaque barrier. In the first experiment, residents were presented with a conspecific intruder matched for size and color. Based on a numerical index of aggression, residents were consistently dominant over intruders. When reciprocal trials were conducted, the results were reversed (i.e. residents were dominant over males to which they previously had been subordinate). The success of resident males was not influenced by the size of conspecific intruders. In addition, residents consistently dominated a sympatric confamilial intruder (Phyllobates lugubris). Removal experiments revealed that resident males recognize and defend their enclosures after 3, and to a lesser degree, 6 days of isolation. We also examined the effect of territorial markers on the prior residence effect by stepwise removal of the plant and Sphagnum. Residents aggressively defended enclosures in both experiments. When Sphagnum was removed from the resident's enclosures and placed in a previously unused aquaria, 7 of 10 males exhibited dominance over conspecific intruders.

Affiliations: 1: (Biological Sciences/Institute of Animal Behavior, Towson State University, Towson, Maryland 21204, USA


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