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THE BENEFITS OF DEAR ENEMY RECOGNITION IN THREE-CONTENDER CONVICT CICHLID (CICHLASOMA NIGROFASCIATUM) CONTESTS

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We staged eight types of contests using adult male convict cichlids (Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum) to study the effects of dear enemy recognition on the defensive decisions of territorial residents when confronted by two opponents. Our observations supported the hypothesis that residents faced with two intruders simultaneously would divide the overall response shown to a single intruder between the two intruders with respect to their relative threats (i.e. sizes). Consequently, in comparison to a single-intruder circumstance, the residents' attacks against any given intruder were reduced. The relative threat of competitors was dramatically altered when one of the residents' opponents was a dear enemy neighbour. When faced with a dear enemy neighbour and an unfamiliar intruder simultaneously, residents preferentially confronted the unfamiliar opponent. That is, the establishment of dear enemy recognition between a resident and a neighbour allowed the resident to direct his aggression to the greater competitive threat, i.e. the intruder. In this case, the amount of aggression residents exhibited toward the intruder was similar to the amount of aggression against a single nonterritorial intruder. Therefore, having a dear enemy neighbour freed a resident to defend its territory against an intruder with similar efficiency compared to when the intruder had been the resident's only opponent.

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/content/journals/10.1163/156853999501685
1999-09-01
2015-07-06

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