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Morphological and behavioural correlates of contest success in male yellow-headed geckos, Gonatodes albogularis: sequential assessment or self-assessment?

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Gonatodes albogularis is a small diurnal gecko that lives in Central and northern South America and whose behaviour has been rarely analysed. This study describes the behaviour patterns occurring during agonistic encounters between male geckos, assesses the effect of morphological and behavioural traits on aggressive intensity and contest outcome, and tests predictions of the sequential assessment and self-assessment models of animal contests. We staged encounters between randomly paired wild-caught males in a neutral arena. The behaviour of both males was recorded and a winner was determined for most encounters. Aggressive patterns exhibited during the contests included ‘throat depression’, ‘push-ups’, three types of ‘tail display’, ‘whole body waving’ and ‘bites’. Contest winners did not differ from losers in any of the morphological variables examined. However, winners performed longer or more frequent aggressive behaviours than losers, and frequency of ‘throat depression’ and duration of ‘whole body waving’ significantly predicted final status of geckos. These results show that some behaviours are good predictors of the outcome of aggressive encounters in G. albogularis. Moreover, winner SVL significantly predicted the aggressive intensity of the contest. Early theoretical models hypothesized that there should be mutual assessment between contestants, but our results for G. albogularis agree more with a recent model of ‘self-assessment only’ of intrasexual competition.

Affiliations: 1: aCentro de Investigaciones sobre Dinámica Social (CIDS), Conocimiento médico y Sociedad, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales y Humanas, Universidad Externado de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia; 2: bGrupo de investigación “Etología y Ecología del Comportamiento”, Departamento de Biología Animal, Facultad de Biología, Universidad de La Laguna, 38206 Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

10.1163/1568539X-00003199
/content/journals/10.1163/1568539x-00003199
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2014-09-26
2016-12-03

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