Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 67, Issue 1, pp 79–90 | Cite as

The role of size and aggression in intrasexual male competition in a social lizard species, Egernia whitii

  • Jo McEvoy
  • Geoffrey M. While
  • David L. Sinn
  • Erik Wapstra
Original Paper

Abstract

Competition between males is a key component of the agonistic intrasexual interactions that influence resource acquisition, social system dynamics, and ultimately reproductive success. Sexual selection theory predicts that traits that enhance success in intrasexual competition (particularly male–male competition) should be favored. In vertebrates, this often includes body size and aggression, with larger and/or more aggressive males outcompeting smaller or less aggressive conspecifics. The majority of studies consider aggression as a flexible trait which responds to local social or environmental conditions. However, aggression frequently shows considerable within-individual consistency (i.e., individuals have identifiable aggressive behavioral types). Little is known about how such consistency in aggression may influence competition outcomes. We integrated a detailed field study with a laboratory experiment to examine how a male’s aggressive phenotype and his size influence competitive interactions in Egernia whitii, a social lizard species which exhibits strong competition over resources (limited permanent shelter sites and basking sites). Individual aggression and size did not predict competition outcome in the laboratory nor did they predict home range size, overlap, or reproductive success in the field. However, winners of laboratory trial contests maintained consistent aggressive phenotypes while consistency in aggression was lost in losers. We suggest that aggression may be important in other functional contexts, such as parental care, and that alternative traits, such as fighting experience, may be important in determining competition outcome in this species.

Keywords

Intrasexual male competition Personality Aggression Lizard Behavioral consistency Behavioral plasticity 

References

  1. Amundsen T (2000) Why are female birds ornamented? Trends Ecol Evol 15:149–155PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andersson MB (1994) Sexual selection. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  3. Angilletta MJ, Niewiarowski PH, Navas CA (2002) The evolution of thermal physiology in ectotherms. J Therm Biol 27:249–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arnott G, Elwood RW (2009) Assessment of fighting ability in animal contests. Anim Behav 77:991–1004CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barlow GW, Rogers W, Fraley N (1986) Do midas cichlids win through prowess or daring—it depends. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 19:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beaugrand J, Goulet C, Payette D (1991) Outcome of dyadic conflict in male green swordtail fish, Xiphophorus helleri—effects of body size and prior dominance. Anim Behav 41:417–424CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Belliure J, Carrascal LM, Diaz JA (1996) Covariation of thermal biology and foraging mode in two Mediterranean lacertid lizards. Ecology 77:1163–1173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bierbach D, Girndt A, Hamfler S, Klein M, Mucksch F, Penshorn M, Schwinn M, Zimmer C, Schlupp I, Streit B, Plath M (2011) Male fish use prior knowledge about rivals to adjust their mate choice. Biol Lett 7:349–351PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Biro PA, Beckmann C, Stamps JA (2010) Small within-day increases in temperature affects boldness and alters personality in coral reef fish. Proc R Soc Lond B 277:71–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bjorneraas K, Herfindal I, Solberg EJ, Sther BE, van Moorter B, Rolandsen CM (2012) Habitat quality influences population distribution, individual space use and functional responses in habitat selection by a large herbivore. Oecologia 168:231–243PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Boake CRB (1989) Repeatability—its role in evolutionary studies of mating-behavior. Evol Ecol 3:173–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Briffa M, Elwood RW (2004) Use of energy reserves in fighting hermit crabs. Proc R Soc Lond B 271:373–379CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Briffa M, Sneddon LU (2007) Physiological constraints on contest behaviour. Funct Ecol 21:627–637CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Budaev SV (2010) Using principal components and factor analysis in animal behaviour research: caveats and guidelines. Ethology 116:472–480CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bull CM, Baghurst BC (1998) Home range overlap of mothers and their offspring in the sleepy lizard, Tiliqua rugosa. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 42:357–362Google Scholar
  16. Calsbeek R, Cox RM (2010) Experimentally assessing the relative importance of predation and competition as agents of selection. Nature 465:613–616PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Calsbeek R, Sinervo B (2002) The ontogeny of territoriality during maturation. Oecologia 132:468–477CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chapple DG (2003) Ecology, life-history, and behavior in the Australian Scincid genus Egernia, with comments on the evolution of complex sociality in lizards. Herp Monogr 17:145–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chapple DG, Keogh JS (2005) Complex mating system and dispersal patterns in a social lizard, Egernia whitii. Mol Ecol 14:1215–1227PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Chapple DG, Keogh JS (2006) Group structure and stability in social aggregations of white's skink, Egernia whitii. Ethology 112:247–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Costantini D, Carere C, Caramaschi D, Koolhaas JM (2008) Aggressive and nonaggressive personalities differ in oxidative status in selected lines of mice (Mus musculus). Biol Lett 4:119–122PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dall SRX, Giraldeau LA, Olsson O, McNamara JM, Stephens DW (2005) Information and its use by animals in evolutionary ecology. Trends Ecol Evol 20:187–193PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. de Barros FC, de Carvalho JE, Abe AS, Kohlsdor T (2010) Fight versus flight: the interaction of temperature and body size determines antipredator behaviour in tegu lizards. Anim Behav 79:83–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Duckworth RA (2006) Behavioral correlations across breeding contexts provide a mechanism for a cost of aggression. Behav Ecol 17:1011–1019CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Dzieweczynski TL, Sullivan KR, Forrette LM, Hebert OL (2012) Repeated recent aggressive encounters do not affect behavioral consistency in male Siamese fighting fish. Ethology 118:351–359CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fairbairn DJ, Blanckenhorn WU, Szekely T (2007) Sex, size and gender roles. Evolutionary studies of sexual size dimorphism. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  27. Fawcett TW, Johnstone RA (2010) Learning your own strength: winner and loser effects should change with age and experience. Proc R Soc Lond B 277:1427–1434CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Foerster K, Kempenaers B (2004) Experimentally elevated plasma levels of testosterone do not increase male reproductive success in blue tits. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 56:482–490CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Fuxjager MJ, Marler CA (2010) How and why the winner effect forms: influences of contest environment and species differences. Behav Ecol 21:37–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Fuxjager MJ, Forbes-Lorman RM, Coss DJ, Auger CJ, Auger AP, Marler CA (2010) Winning territorial disputes selectively enhances androgen sensitivity in neural pathways related to motivation and social aggression. P Natl Acad Sci USA 107:12393–12398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gardner MG, Cooper SJB, Bull CM, Grant WN (1999) Isolation of microsatellite loci from a social lizard, Egernia stokesii, using a modified enrichment procedure. J Hered 90:301–304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gardner MG, Bull CM, Cooper SJB (2002) High levels of genetic monogamy in the group-living Australian lizard Egernia stokesii. Mol Ecol 11:1787–1794PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Gardner MG, Sanchez JJ, Dudaniec RY, Rheinberger L, Smith AL, Saint KM (2008) Tiliqua rugosa microsatellites: isolation via enrichment and characterisation of loci for multiplex PCR in T rugosa and the endangered T adelaidensis. Conserv Genet 9:233–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Gosling SD (2001) From mice to men: what can we learn about personality from animal research? Psychol Bull 127:45–86PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Grafen A (1987) The logic of divisively asymmetric contests—respect for ownership and the desperado effect. Anim Behav 35:462–467CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Greer AE (1989) The biology and evolution of Australian lizards. Chipping Norton, New South WalesGoogle Scholar
  37. Herrel A, James RS, Van Damme R (2007) Fight versus flight: physiological basis for temperature-dependent behavioral shifts in lizards. J Exp Biol 210:1762–1767PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Herrel A, Andrade DV, de Carvalho JE, Brito A, Abe A, Navas C (2009) Aggressive behavior and performance in the tegu lizard Tupinambis merianae. Physiol Biochem Zool 82:680–685PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hooge, PN, Eichenlaub B (1997) Animal movement extension to Arcview (2.0). Alaska Science Center Biological Science Office, US Geological Survey, AnchorageGoogle Scholar
  40. Hsu YY, Wolf LL (2001) The winner and loser effect: what fighting behaviours are influenced? Anim Behav 61:777–786CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hsu Y, Earley RL, Wolf LL (2006) Modulation of aggressive behaviour by fighting experience: mechanisms and contest outcomes. Biol Rev 81:33–74PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Huang SP, Yang SY, Hsu YY (2011) Persistence of winner and loser effects depends on the behaviour measured. Ethology 117:171–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Huyghe K, Vanhooydonck B, Scheers H, Molina-Borja M, Van Damme R (2005) Morphology, performance and fighting capacity in male lizards, Gallotia galloti. Funct Ecol 19:800–807CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Hyman J, Hughes M (2006) Territory owners discriminate between aggressive and nonaggressive neighbours. Anim Behav 72:209–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Isaksson C, While GM, McEvoy J, van de Crommenacker J, Olsson M, Groothuis TGG, Komdeur J, Wapstra E (2011) Aggression, but not testosterone, is associated to oxidative stress in a free-living vertebrate. Behaviour 148:713–731CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Jenssen TA, Decourcy KR, Congdon JD (2005) Assessment in contests of male lizards (Anolis carolinensis): how should smaller males respond when size matters? Anim Behav 69:1325–1336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Jones SM, Bell K (2004) Plasma corticosterone concentrations in males of the skink Egernia whitii during acute and chronic confinement, and over a diel period. Comp Biochem Physiol A 137:105–113Google Scholar
  48. Just W, Morris MR, Sun X (2007) The evolution of aggressive losers. Behav Process 74:342–350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Kasumovic MM, Elias DO, Sivalinghem S, Mason AC, Andrade MCB (2010) Examination of prior contest experience and the retention of winner and loser effects. Behav Ecol 21:404–409PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Kemp DJ (2006) Ageing, reproductive value, and the evolution of lifetime fighting behaviour. Biol J Linn Soc 88:565–578CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Langkilde T, Shine R (2004) Competing for crevices: interspecific conflict influences retreat-site selection in montane lizards. Oecologia 140:684–691PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Langkilde T, Shine R (2007) Interspecific conflict in lizards: social dominance depends upon an individual's species not its body size. Austral Ecol 32:869–877CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Langkilde T, O'Connor D, Shine R (2003) Shelter-site use by five species of montane scincid lizards in south-eastern Australia. Aust J Zool 51:175–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Langkilde T, Lance VA, Shine R (2005) Ecological consequences of agonistic interactions in lizards. Ecology 86:1650–1659CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Langkilde T, O'Connor D, Shine R (2007) Benefits of parental care: do juvenile lizards obtain better-quality habitat by remaining with their parents? Austral Ecol 32:950–954CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Lehner SR, Rutte C, Taborsky M (2011) Rats benefit from winner and loser effects. Ethology 117:949–960CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Lincoln GA, Guinness F, Short RV (1972) Way in which testosterone controls social and sexual-behaviour of red deer stag (Cervus elaphus). Horm Behav 3:375–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Logue DM, Takahashi AD, Cade WH (2011) Aggressiveness and size: a model and two tests. Am Nat 177:202–210PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Lopez P, Martin J (2001) Fighting rules and rival recognition reduce costs of aggression in male lizards, Podarcis hispanica. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 49:111–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Marden JH, Waage JK (1990) Escalated damselfly territorial contests are energetic wars of attrition. Anim Behav 39:954–959CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Marshall TC, Slate J, Kruuk LEB, Pemberton JM (1998) Statistical confidence for likelihood-based paternity inference in natural populations. Mol Ecol 7:639–655PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Martin P, Bateson P (1993) Measuring behaviour: an introductory guide, 2nd edn. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Maynard Smith J, Parker GR (1976) The logic of asymmetric contests. Anim Behav 24:159–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. McEvoy J, Sinn DL, While GM, Wapstra E (2008) Know thy enemy: behavioural response of a native mammal (Rattus lutreolus velutinus) to predators of different coexistence histories. Austral Ecol 33:922–931CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. McGraw KO, Wong SP (1996) Forming inferences about some intraclass correlation coefficients. Psychol Methods 1:30–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Moore JA, Daugherty CH, Godfrey SS, Nelson NJ (2009) Seasonal monogamy and multiple paternity in a wild population of territorial reptile (tuatara). Biol J Linnean Soc 98:161–170Google Scholar
  67. O'Connor DE, Shine R (2004) Parental care protects against infanticide in the lizard Egernia saxatilis (Scincidae). Anim Behav 68:1361–1369CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Olsson M, Shine R (2000) Ownership influences the outcome of male–male contests in the scincid lizard, Niveoscincus microlepidotus. Behav Ecol 11:587–590CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Oyegbile TO, Marler CA (2005) Winning fights elevates testosterone levels in California mice and enhances future ability to win fights. Horm Behav 48:259–267PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Powell RA (2000) Animal home ranges and territories and home range estimators. In: Boitani L, Fuller TK (eds) Research techniques in animal ecology: controversies and consequences. Columbia University Press, New York, pp 64–110Google Scholar
  71. Prenter J, Taylor PW, Elwood RW (2008) Large body size for winning and large swords for winning quickly in swordtail males, Xiphophorus helleri. Anim Behav 75:1981–1987CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Price AC, Rodd FH (2006) The effect of social environment on male–male competition in guppies (Poecilia reticulata). Ethology 112:22–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Punzo F (2007) Sprint speed and degree of wariness in two populations of whiptail lizards (Aspidoscelis tesselata) (Squamata teiidae). Ethol Ecol Evol 19:159–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Reichert MS, Gerhardt HC (2011) The role of body size on the outcome, escalation and duration of contest in the grey treefrog, Hyla versicolor. Anim Behav 82:1357–1366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Rose B (1982) Lizard home ranges—methodology and functions. J Herp 16:253–269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Sacchi R, Pupin F, Gentilli A, Rubolini D, Scali S, Fasola M, Galeotti P (2009) Male-male combats in a polymorphic lizard: residency and size, but not color, affect fighting rules and contest outcome. Aggressive Behav 35:274–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Schulte-Hostedde AI, Millar JS (2002) ‘Little chipmunk’ syndrome? Male body size and dominance in captive yellow-pine chipmunks (Tamias amoenus). Ethology 108:127–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Shuster M, Wade MJ (2003) Mating systems and strategies. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  79. Sih A, Bell AM, Johnson JC (2004a) Behavioural syndromes: an ecological and evolutionary overview. Trends Ecol Evol 19:372–378PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Sih A, Bell AM, Johnson JC, Ziemba RA (2004b) Behavioural syndromes: an integrative overview. Quart Rev Biol 79:241–277PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Sinervo BDB, Miles DB, Frankino WA, Klukowski M, DeNardo DF (2000) Testosterone, endurance, and Darwinian fitness: natural and sexual selection on the physiological bases of alternative male behaviors in side-blotched lizards. Horm Behav 38:222–233PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Sinn DL, While GM, Wapstra E (2008) Maternal care in a social lizard: links between female aggression and offspring fitness. Anim Behav 76:1249–1257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Stamps JA, Briffa M, Biro PA (2012) Unpredictable animals: individual differences in intraindividual variability (IIV). Anim Behav 83:1325–1334CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Stapley J (2006) Individual variation in preferred body temperature covaries with social behaviours and colour in male lizards. J Therm Biol 31:362–369CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Strong AM, Sherry TW (2000) Habitat-specific effects of food abundance on the condition of ovenbirds wintering in Jamaica. J Anim Ecol 69:883–895CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Thompson CW, Moore MC (1991) Throat color reliably signals status in male tree lizards, Urosaurus ornatus. Anim Behav 42:745–753CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Wapstra E, Uller T, While GM, Olsson M, Shine R (2010) Giving offspring a head start in life: field and experimental evidence for selection on maternal basking behaviour in lizards. J Evol Biol 23:651–657PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. While GM, Wapstra E (2009) Effects of basking opportunity on birthing asynchrony in a viviparous lizard. Anim Behav 77:1465–1470CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. While GM, Jones SM, Wapstra E (2007) Birthing asynchrony is not a consequence of asynchronous offspring development in a non-avian vertebrate, the Australian skink Egernia whitii. Funct Ecol 21:513–519CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. While GM, Sinn DL, Wapstra E (2009a) Female aggression predicts mode of paternity acquisition in a social lizard. Proc R Soc Lond B 276:2021–2029CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. While GM, Uller T, Wapstra E (2009b) Family conflict and the evolution of sociality in reptiles. Behav Ecol 20:245–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. While GM, Uller T, Wapstra E (2009c) Within-population variation in social strategies characterize the social and mating system of an Australian lizard, Egernia whitii. Austral Ecol 34:938–949CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. While GM, Isaksson C, McEvoy J, Sinn DL, Komdeur J, Wapstra E, Groothuis TGG (2010) Repeatable intra-individual variation in plasma testosterone concentration and its sex-specific link to aggression in a social lizard. Horm Behav 58:208–213PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. While GM, Uller T, Wapstra E (2011) Variation in social organization influences the opportunity for sexual selection in a social lizard. Mol Ecol 20:844–852PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Wilson AJ, de Boer M, Arnott G, Grimmer A (2011) Integrating personality research and animal contest theory: aggressiveness in the green swordtail Xiphophorus helleri. PLoS One 6:e28024PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. Wingfield JC, Ball GF, Dufty AM, Hegner RE, Ramenofsky M (1987) Testosterone and aggression in birds. Am Sci 75:602–608Google Scholar
  97. Wong BBM, Candolin U (2005) How is female mate choice affected by male competition? Biol Rev 80:559–571PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Yoshino K, Koga T, Oki S (2011) Chelipeds are the real weapon: cheliped size is a more effective determinant than body size in male-male competition for mates in a hermit crab. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 65:1825–1832CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Young JK, Gonzalez-Suarez M, Gerber LR (2008) Determinants of agonistic interactions in California sea lions. Behaviour 145:1797–1810CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jo McEvoy
    • 1
  • Geoffrey M. While
    • 1
    • 2
  • David L. Sinn
    • 1
    • 3
  • Erik Wapstra
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Zoology, University of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  2. 2.Edward Grey Institute, Department of Zoology, University of OxfordOxfordUK
  3. 3.The University of Texas at Austin, Department of PsychologyAustinUSA

Personalised recommendations