Rapid change in energy status in fighting animals: causes and effects of strategic decisions

Mark Briffa, Robert Elwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Citations (Scopus)


Energetic costs of fighting, such as high lactate or low glucose, have been shown in a range of species to correlate with the decisions made by each opponent, particularly the decision by one opponent, the 'loser', to end the fight by 'giving up'. Studies based on complete fights of differing duration, however, do not provide information on the changes in the physiological correlates of fighting that may take place during the course of the encounter, or how these changes may influence the capability and decisions of the contestants. We interrupted fights between hermit crabs, Pagurus bernhardus, at specific points, and related energy status to the preceding activities. Costs rose quickly with a rapid accumulation of lactic acid in attackers and declining muscular glycogen in defenders. Changes in physiological status appeared much earlier than the changes in behaviour that they may have caused. Furthermore, some physiological changes might have been an effect, rather than the cause, of fight decisions. (c) 2005 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-124
Number of pages6
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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