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Large males fight and court more across a range of social environments: an experiment on the two spotted goby Gobiusculus flavescens

Authors

  • S. Wacker,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NO-7491 Trondheim, Norway
    2. Department of Behavioural Biology, WWU Münster, D-48149 Münster, Germany
      Tel.: +47 73596257; email: wacker@bio.ntnu.no
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  • K. de Jong,

    1. Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NO-7491 Trondheim, Norway
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    • Present address: Museum of Natural History and Archaeology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NO-7491, Trondheim, Norway

  • E. Forsgren,

    1. Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NO-7491 Trondheim, Norway
    2. Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, P. O. Box 5685 Sluppen, NO-7485 Trondheim, Norway
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  • T. Amundsen

    1. Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NO-7491 Trondheim, Norway
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Tel.: +47 73596257; email: wacker@bio.ntnu.no

Abstract

The present study explored how male size relates to mating competition across a natural range of male and female densities in the two-spotted goby Gobiusculus flavescens. Across this range of social environments, large males were more than twice as likely as small ones to chase other males, to become nest-holders, and to court females, but large males were not significantly more likely to engage in agonistic fin displays. Overall, the study showed that large males court and fight more than small ones across a wide, yet natural, span of social environments. Having a large body size appears to confer competitive advantage for males in any social environment of the study species. Further studies are needed to disentangle whether the benefit of large size is mainly in competition over resources, over matings as such, or both.

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