Self-assessment by males during energetically costly contests over precopula females in amphipods

John Prenter, Robert Elwood, P.W. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


In animal contests, individuals can either engage in mutual assessment of both their own and their opponent's resource-holding potential (RHP) and adjust their behaviour according to estimated differences, or instead persist in accordance with thresholds determined by assessment of just their own RHP. We examined the predictions of alternative mutual assessment and self-assessment models for decision rules in contest resolution during struggles between males over females in precopula in the amphipod Gammarus pulex. Contest duration was positively related to the weight of the loser but not the weight of the winner. Our results support the hypothesis that males rely on information about their own RHP in determining contest behaviour and do not use information about their opponent. Fighting was energetically costly, and energy reserves were depleted during contests. Contest duration was associated with the physiological state of the loser (but not the winner) at the end of the contest, and to a lesser extent his size, further supporting self-assessment. (c) 2006 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)861-868
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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