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Abstract

This study compares temporal patterns of intraspecific agonistic interactions in two gerbil species in order to indicate interspecific differences in levels of social resistance. Both cross-sex and same-sex pairs of great gerbils (Rhombomys opimus Licht., 1823), and only same-sex male pairs of pallid gerbils (Gerbillus perpallidus Setzer 1958) were observed during staged encounters on a neutral arena. Analysis of three latency measures—latency to first agonistic interaction; latency to overt aggression (attack and/or ‘arrested’ fight); and latency to establishment of a stable winner-loser asymmetry among opponents—revealed both similarities and differences among the species. Latencies to first agonistic interaction were similar (did not differ significantly) among species and sexes. However, great gerbil males showed significantly more long latencies to establishment of a stable asymmetry among opponents, than great gerbil females or pallid gerbil males. So, the periods of symmetrical struggle in agonistic conflict last longer in great gerbil males, than in great gerbil females or pallid gerbil males. These differences in temporal pattern of agonistic interaction may reflect sex and species differences in resistance to social stress.