Residence duration influences the outcome of territorial conflicts in brown trout (Salmo trutta)
- Cite this article as:
- Johnsson, J.I. & Forser, A. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2002) 51: 282. doi:10.1007/s00265-001-0430-6
From the value asymmetry hypothesis, we predicted that increasing residence duration should increase perceived territory value, which should (1) increase the motivation of a replacement owner to defend the territory, (2) decrease the probability that the original owner regains the territory and (3) increase contest duration and aggression between the original and replacement owner. These predictions were tested on young brown trout. First, individual fish were allowed to establish territories for 3 days. These original owners were then moved to an adjacent territory, whereupon replacement owners were allowed to take up their territories for either 2 or 4 days. After 4 days, the original owners were returned to their old territories, now containing a new size-matched resident. The resulting conflict was observed and the initiator, duration, aggression levels and the winner of the contest were determined. Replacement trout that had been resident for 4 days initiated and won more contests against original owners than did 2-day replacements. This suggests that the motivation to defend the territory increases with residence time, which will determine the outcome of territorial contests between opponents of similar resource-holding potential (i.e. size). Moreover, contests with 4-day replacements were longer and aggression levels were higher than in contests with 2-day replacement trout. These results are consistent with the value asymmetry hypothesis, extending its validity for explaining the behaviour of territorial animals.