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Abstract

Fighting behavior has been studied extensively with strong emphases on factors that independently determine winners and losers as well as how much effort an individual should invest in a given contest for a resource. Much less attention has been paid to how interacting qualities of disputed resources modulate aggression. In a laboratory study, we examined the interactive effects of female condition and mating status on dyadic male aggression in the wolf spider Pardosa milvina. We discovered that males exhibited significantly more aggressive behaviors when in the presence of virgin females in good condition and displayed lower and statistically similar levels of aggression when placed with virgin, poor condition females; mated, good condition females; mated, poor condition females; and no females. Because previous studies have suggested that virgin females alone should be highly prized because of putative first-mate sperm priority patterns, this study contributes to this body of literature by suggesting that diet history and body condition mitigate the reproductive advantages of mating with virgin females as indicated by levels of male-male aggression, but further investigation is needed.