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Inbred and furious: negative association between aggression and genetic diversity in highly inbred fish


Correspondence: Sofia Consuegra, Fax: +44(0)1970 622350; E-mail:


Aggressive behaviour plays an important role in securing resources, defending against predators and shaping social interactions. Although aggression can have positive effects on growth and reproductive success, it is also energetically costly and may increase injury and compromise survival. Individual genetic diversity has been positively associated with aggression, but the cause for such an association is not clear, and it might be related to the ability to recognize kin. To disentangle the relationships between genetic diversity, kinship and aggression, we quantified aggressive behaviour in a wild, self-fertilizing fish (Kryptolebias marmoratus) with naturally variable degrees of genetic diversity, relatedness and familiarity. We found that in contrast to captive fish, levels of aggression among wild K. marmoratus are positively associated with individual homozygosity, but not with relatedness or familiarity. We suggest that the higher aggression shown by homozygous fish could be related to better kin discrimination and may be facilitated by hermaphrodite competition for scarce males, given the fitness advantages provided by outcrossing in terms of parasite resistance. It seems likely that the relationship between aggression and genetic diversity is largely influenced by both the environment and population history.