Agonistic Interactions in Juvenile Sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) in Relation to Local Predation Risk

Authors

  • P. J. Wright,

    1. Department of Zoology, University of Glasgow, Glasgow
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      Wright, P. J. & Huntingford, F. A. 1993: Agonistic interactions in juvenile sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) in relation to local predation risk. Ethology 94, 248–256.

  • F. A. Huntingford

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Zoology, University of Glasgow, Glasgow
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    • 2

      Wright, P. J. & Huntingford, F. A. 1993: Agonistic interactions in juvenile sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) in relation to local predation risk. Ethology 94, 248–256.


Department of Zoology, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK.

Abstract

Size-matched groups of three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) fry were established using fish from two sites, one with abundant piscivorous predators (the high-risk site) and the other with very few heterospecific predators (the low-risk site). Over a period of two months, social interactions within groups were monitored regularly and mean lengths and coefficients of variance in length were tracked. Agonistic behaviour was observed in 45% of observation periods, but was more common in the groups of fry from the low-risk site, where it was more likely to take the form of direct attack rather than displacement without contact. In both categories of fish, the great majority of agonistic acts were directed to fish of a similar size or smaller. Mean size increased rapidly in all groups. At the same time, the coefficient of variation also increased, approaching 15% after two months in both categories of fish, reflecting differing growth rates among individuals. After three months, the two largest and the two smallest fish from each group were observed individually during an encounter with a model predatory fish. Large and small fish from both sites behaved identically in this test, suggesting that in sticklebacks (unlike guppies, for example) early experience of aggressive attacks from conspecific companions may not influence the development of anti-predator responses. As has been reported previously, sticklebacks from the high-risk site responded much more strongly than low-risk fish.

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