Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 67, Issue 2, pp 283–292 | Cite as

Modulation of male aggressiveness through different communication pathways

  • Alexandre V. Palaoro
  • Luciane Ayres-Peres
  • Sandro Santos
Original Paper


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.


Animal communication Sexual competition Aquatic environment Agonistic behavior Aeglidae 



The authors are grateful to MSc. Marcelo Marchet Dalosto and Aimée Ferreira Siqueira for their help with the experiments and to MSc. Francisco Diogo Rocha Sousa for his help with the figures. They are also grateful to the CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico) for the scholarship to AVP, the doctoral scholarship to LAP, and the productivity grant to SS; to an anonymous reviewer for his comments of the manuscript; and to Dr. Martin Thiel for his extensive comments, which helped to substantially improve the manuscript, and his help through the entire editorial process.

Ethical standards

All animals were sampled, maintained, and returned to the natural environment under license from IBAMA (Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente), number 14180–1, granted on December 4, 2007 and according to the applicable statutes (Law number 5197, of January 3, 1967; Resolutions: number 16 of March 4, 1994 and number 332 of March 13, 1990).

Supplementary material

265_2012_1448_MOESM1_ESM.doc (38 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 38 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexandre V. Palaoro
    • 1
  • Luciane Ayres-Peres
    • 2
  • Sandro Santos
    • 1
  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biodiversidade AnimalCentro de Ciências Naturais e Exatas, Universidade Federal de Santa MariaSanta MariaBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto de Biociências, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biologia AnimalUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil

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