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Journal Article


Sacchi R, Pupin F, Gentilli A, Rubolini D, Scali S, Fasola M, Galeotti P. Aggressive Behav. 2009; 35(3): 274-283.


Dipartimento di Biologia Animale, Università degli Studi di Pavia, Pavia, Italy.


(Copyright © 2009, International Society for Research on Aggression, Publisher John Wiley and Sons)






Theoretical models predict that the outcome of dyadic agonistic encounters between males is influenced by resource-holding potential, resource value, and intrinsic aggressiveness of contestants. Moreover, in territorial disputes residents enjoy a further obvious competitive advantage from the residency itself, owing to the intimate familiarity with their territory. Costs of physical combats are, however, dramatically high in many instances. Thus, signals reliably reflecting fighting ability of the opponents could easily evolve in order to reduce these costs. For example, variation in color morph in polymorphic species has been associated with dominance in several case studies. In this study, we staged asymmetric resident-intruder encounters in males of the common wall lizard Podarcis muralis, a species showing three discrete morphs (white, yellow, and red) to investigate the effects of asymmetries in color morph, residency, and size between contestants on the outcome of territorial contests. We collected aggression data by presenting each resident male with three intruders of different color morph, in three consecutive tests conducted in different days, and videotaping their interactions. The results showed that simple rules such as residency and body size differences could determine the outcome of agonistic interactions: residents were more aggressive than intruders, and larger males were competitively superior to smaller males. However, we did not find any effect of color on male aggression or fighting success, suggesting that color polymorphism in this species is not a signal of status or fighting ability in intermale conflicts.

Language: en


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