, Volume 67, Issue 2, pp 283-292
Date: 18 Nov 2012

Modulation of male aggressiveness through different communication pathways

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Communication plays a large role in resource competition, especially for potential mates, and is used by members of the competing sex to assess each other, and simultaneously to evaluate the other sex, which may be advertising its status. To assess the effects of female advertisement on male aggression, males of the decapod Aegla were paired according to body and armament size. Males were left to interact in five different treatments: with receptive females that could use both chemical and visual cues, non-receptive females that could use both types of cues, receptive females that could use only one cue, or no female in the aquarium. Fight duration, time spent in the most aggressive acts, latency period, number of antennal whips/fight duration, and time spent near the female were analyzed. The males had shorter and less intense confrontations when there was a receptive female that could signal with at least one modality. Winning males spent significantly more time near the receptive female only when both chemical and visual cues were present, when compared to the other treatments. The low level of aggression shown by the males may be related to information asymmetry due to the female’s choice: only the preferred male would receive information from the female, or males could compete for other resources that attract females. However, male aggression was modified by the presence of female chemical cues, whereas mate guarding was initiated only when both chemical and visual cues were present. Hence, male aggression can be downregulated by female receptivity.