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Differences in aggressive behavior between convict cichlid color morphs: amelanistic convicts lose even with a size advantage


Convict cichlids (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus) are a territorial, monogamous, and biparental Central American cichlid fish. Convicts exist in two common color morphs: the wild-type (WT) black-barred form and an amelanistic (AM) barless morph. Color morphs affect aggressive interactions in other species of fish. We staged fights between males of each color morph with varying size asymmetries and found that WT males were able to overcome a size disadvantage by increasing their rate of aggressive behavior. AM males lost more often when smaller than their opponent, apparently because they did not increase their rate of aggressive behavior when at a size disadvantage. We discuss two possible hypotheses to explain these findings: (1) that there are genetic differences in aggressive behavior between the morphs and (2) that AM fish are disadvantaged in staged contests because they are unable to signal via changes in bar coloration.

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We thank Steven Hamblin for his assistance with the analysis. This research was funded by an NSERC discovery grant to PLH. All protocols were approved by the University of Alberta Biological Sciences Animal Policy and Welfare Committee.

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Correspondence to Peter L. Hurd.

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Communicated by E. Goncalves

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Reddon, A.R., Hurd, P.L. Differences in aggressive behavior between convict cichlid color morphs: amelanistic convicts lose even with a size advantage. acta ethol 12, 49–53 (2009).

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  • Color morphs
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Dyadic contests
  • Convict cichlids
  • Archocentrus nigrofasciatus