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The role of observation and of individual differences in in the determination of rank order in triads of male green swordtail fish (Xiphophorus helleri)

By Jacques P. Beaugrand and Pierre-Alain Cotnoir


Triads of Xiphophorus helleri males composed of a large prior winner (A), a small prior winner (a), and a small prior loser (w) were formed. In one condition, A was used as bystander while in another condition it was the small w. The bystander could see through a transparent partition and observe conflict settlement between the two other fish without interacting with them. As soon as a dominance relationship clearly emerged, the partition was raised and the fish on standby could establish dominance relationships with them. The most frequent triadic structures obtained were A >a>w and A>w>a indicating that individual characteristics played a determinant role in hierarchy formation. Patterns of assembly depended on individual differences of the fish. The fact that the same dominance structures were reached through various patterns of assembly suggests that individual differences are more determinant than paths of resolution in Xiphophorus

Topics: Animal Behavior, Animal Cognition, Ethology
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 1996
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