Title

The roles of body size and experience in agonistic displays of the ozark zigzag salamander, Plethodon angusticlavius

Abstract

When animals differ visibly in competitive ability, contests are predicted to be settled quickly. We tested the hypotheses that body size and experience influence agonistic displays in contests between adult male zigzag salamanders, Plethodon angusticlavius. We paired males of either the same size (±1 mm SVL length) or of different sizes (≥4 mm difference in length) and observed their behavior for 30 minutes. Both large and small males exhibited significantly more threat displays when paired with other males of the same size than when paired with males of different sizes, indicating an effect of relative body size. Absolute body size also influenced agonistic behavior; when tested against same-size opponents (symmetric contests), large salamanders were more aggressive than small salamanders. Recent experience influenced the behavior of small males but not of large males. Qualitatively, the highest levels of aggression were exhibited by large salamanders in symmetric contests and the lowest levels were by small salamanders with no recent experience that were in asymmetric contests. Therefore, the factors influencing the level of aggression in a given contest may be complex, including size relative to that of the opponent, absolute body size, and experience.

Department(s)

Biology

Document Type

Article

Stable URL

https://www.jstor.org/stable/3893228

Keywords

Aggression, Body size, Experience, Plethodon angusticlavius, Territoriality

Publication Date

9-1-1999

Journal Title

Herpetologica

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