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Abstract

Competition within biological populations frequently leads to physical disputes. Natural selection requires that the costs of these disputes to the involved individuals are in some sense minimized. We examine a specific situation in detail, disputes between gravid female iguanas for nesting sites, and show that it is energy costs which are minimized and that this minimization is achieved by escalating the energy expended during the individual dispute and by the use of displays. The analysis uses probabilistic and information theoretic techniques.