Is Contest Experience a Trump Card? The Interaction of Residency Status, Experience, and Body Size on Fighting Success in Misumenoides formosipes (Araneae: Thomisidae)
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Game theory models predict that individuals in contests adjust their strategy appropriately to the current value of the contested resource and the resource holding potential (RHP) of their opponent. In the current investigation, I examined interactively operating, multiple contest asymmetries on dyadic disputes for precopulatory guarding positions in the crab spider Misumenoides formosipes. In contests between equally sized adult males with no previous contest experience, residents had clear advantages in fighting success over intruders. Asymmetries in experience predicted outcome when tested against residency status, and experience operating in concert with residency status predicted resolution when tested against size asymmetries. Data from this investigation suggest that crab spiders learn strategies through experience rather than rely solely on the assessment of their opponent's RHP before determining contest effort.
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