Contest behaviour varies in relation to reproductive opportunities and reproductive success in the fallow deer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Theory expects contestants to adjust their investment in fighting in line with the perceived value of a resource. Thus, we expect to see an increase in contest duration or aggressive actions if the subjective value of the resource is estimated to be high relative to occasions where the value is estimated to be low. Although well established in theory, we know little about how contestants structure their contests over resources in the wild, in particular, how variation in resource availability affects how contestants invest in fights. The objectives of this study were twofold: (i) to examine whether the structure of fights varied with presence and abundance of oestrous females in the population and, (ii) whether there was an association between investment in fighting and mating success during fallow deer (Dama dama) fights. Subordinate but not dominant contestants increased their rate of attacking actions when there were oestrous females in the population. However, there was no association between dominant or subordinate contest actions and variation in the number of oestrous females on any single day. With regard to mating success, dominant males that increased their attack rate during fights were more likely to achieve a mating than those that did not, although this investment in attacks was not associated with the number of matings obtained. Conversely, mating success was associated with a reduction in the number of parallel walks for subordinate contestants. Therefore, subordinate males achieved more matings when ritualized display behaviour was reduced or omitted from the contest. These results suggest that a desperado effect may be present, and that contestants use an estimate of resource value rather opponent quality when investing in contests.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Publication statusAccepted - 09 Jan 2020

Fingerprint

Cervus dama
fallow
deer
reproductive success
mating success
fighting
resource
display behavior
resource availability
duration
rate

Keywords

  • Dominance
  • fighting
  • game theory
  • mating success
  • resource holding potential
  • resource value
  • ritualized displays

Cite this

@article{4eaf1bad901e482ea76fb1da8d05f211,
title = "Contest behaviour varies in relation to reproductive opportunities and reproductive success in the fallow deer",
abstract = "Theory expects contestants to adjust their investment in fighting in line with the perceived value of a resource. Thus, we expect to see an increase in contest duration or aggressive actions if the subjective value of the resource is estimated to be high relative to occasions where the value is estimated to be low. Although well established in theory, we know little about how contestants structure their contests over resources in the wild, in particular, how variation in resource availability affects how contestants invest in fights. The objectives of this study were twofold: (i) to examine whether the structure of fights varied with presence and abundance of oestrous females in the population and, (ii) whether there was an association between investment in fighting and mating success during fallow deer (Dama dama) fights. Subordinate but not dominant contestants increased their rate of attacking actions when there were oestrous females in the population. However, there was no association between dominant or subordinate contest actions and variation in the number of oestrous females on any single day. With regard to mating success, dominant males that increased their attack rate during fights were more likely to achieve a mating than those that did not, although this investment in attacks was not associated with the number of matings obtained. Conversely, mating success was associated with a reduction in the number of parallel walks for subordinate contestants. Therefore, subordinate males achieved more matings when ritualized display behaviour was reduced or omitted from the contest. These results suggest that a desperado effect may be present, and that contestants use an estimate of resource value rather opponent quality when investing in contests.",
keywords = "Dominance, fighting, game theory, mating success, resource holding potential, resource value, ritualized displays",
author = "Domhnall Jennings",
year = "2020",
month = "1",
day = "9",
language = "English",
journal = "Animal Behaviour",
issn = "0003-3472",
publisher = "Academic Press Inc.",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Contest behaviour varies in relation to reproductive opportunities and reproductive success in the fallow deer

AU - Jennings, Domhnall

PY - 2020/1/9

Y1 - 2020/1/9

N2 - Theory expects contestants to adjust their investment in fighting in line with the perceived value of a resource. Thus, we expect to see an increase in contest duration or aggressive actions if the subjective value of the resource is estimated to be high relative to occasions where the value is estimated to be low. Although well established in theory, we know little about how contestants structure their contests over resources in the wild, in particular, how variation in resource availability affects how contestants invest in fights. The objectives of this study were twofold: (i) to examine whether the structure of fights varied with presence and abundance of oestrous females in the population and, (ii) whether there was an association between investment in fighting and mating success during fallow deer (Dama dama) fights. Subordinate but not dominant contestants increased their rate of attacking actions when there were oestrous females in the population. However, there was no association between dominant or subordinate contest actions and variation in the number of oestrous females on any single day. With regard to mating success, dominant males that increased their attack rate during fights were more likely to achieve a mating than those that did not, although this investment in attacks was not associated with the number of matings obtained. Conversely, mating success was associated with a reduction in the number of parallel walks for subordinate contestants. Therefore, subordinate males achieved more matings when ritualized display behaviour was reduced or omitted from the contest. These results suggest that a desperado effect may be present, and that contestants use an estimate of resource value rather opponent quality when investing in contests.

AB - Theory expects contestants to adjust their investment in fighting in line with the perceived value of a resource. Thus, we expect to see an increase in contest duration or aggressive actions if the subjective value of the resource is estimated to be high relative to occasions where the value is estimated to be low. Although well established in theory, we know little about how contestants structure their contests over resources in the wild, in particular, how variation in resource availability affects how contestants invest in fights. The objectives of this study were twofold: (i) to examine whether the structure of fights varied with presence and abundance of oestrous females in the population and, (ii) whether there was an association between investment in fighting and mating success during fallow deer (Dama dama) fights. Subordinate but not dominant contestants increased their rate of attacking actions when there were oestrous females in the population. However, there was no association between dominant or subordinate contest actions and variation in the number of oestrous females on any single day. With regard to mating success, dominant males that increased their attack rate during fights were more likely to achieve a mating than those that did not, although this investment in attacks was not associated with the number of matings obtained. Conversely, mating success was associated with a reduction in the number of parallel walks for subordinate contestants. Therefore, subordinate males achieved more matings when ritualized display behaviour was reduced or omitted from the contest. These results suggest that a desperado effect may be present, and that contestants use an estimate of resource value rather opponent quality when investing in contests.

KW - Dominance

KW - fighting

KW - game theory

KW - mating success

KW - resource holding potential

KW - resource value

KW - ritualized displays

M3 - Article

JO - Animal Behaviour

JF - Animal Behaviour

SN - 0003-3472

ER -