Weapon size is a reliable indicator of strength and social dominance in female slender crayfish (Cherax dispar)

Bywater, C.L., Angilletta Jr, M.J. and Wilson, R. S. (2008) Weapon size is a reliable indicator of strength and social dominance in female slender crayfish (Cherax dispar). Functional Ecology, 22 2: 311-316. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2435.2008.01379.x


Author Bywater, C.L.
Angilletta Jr, M.J.
Wilson, R. S.
Title Weapon size is a reliable indicator of strength and social dominance in female slender crayfish (Cherax dispar)
Formatted title
Weapon size is a reliable indicator of strength and social dominance in female slender crayfish (Cherax dispar)
Journal name Functional Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0269-8463
Publication date 2008-04-01
Year available 2008
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2435.2008.01379.x
Open Access Status
Volume 22
Issue 2
Start page 311
End page 316
Total pages 6
Place of publication United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley- Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Language eng
Subject C1
960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified
060203 Ecological Physiology
Abstract Weapons are specialized structures that are commonly used by animals to signal fighting ability and resource holding potential during agonistic encounters. Current theory predicts weapon size should reliably indicate weapon strength and unreliable signals should only occur at very low frequencies in nature. However, a recent study found weapon size was an unreliable signal of strength during agonistic interactions among males of the slender crayfish (Cherax dispar). In this study, we investigated the relationship between morphology, performance and social dominance in females of C. dispar. Based on current theory, we predicted chela size would reliably indicate chela strength and would relate indirectly to dominance via its influence on strength. We found females that possessed large chelae were more likely to possess stronger chelae, and those individuals with stronger chelae were more likely to win competitive bouts. The best predictive model of the relationships among morphology, performance and dominance indicated chela size indirectly affected social dominance via its influence on strength, thus demonstrating displays of weaponry are reliable signals of fighting ability. Reliable signals of strength among females of C. dispar supports current theory predicting stable signalling systems should largely consist of honest displays of strength. However, this contrasts with previous work demonstrating that male C. dispar routinely uses unreliable signals of weapon strength during agonistic encounters.
Formatted abstract
Weapons are specialized structures that are commonly used by animals to signal fighting ability and resource holding potential during agonistic encounters. Current theory predicts weapon size should reliably indicate weapon strength and unreliable signals should only occur at very low frequencies in nature. However, a recent study found weapon size was an unreliable signal of strength during agonistic interactions among males of the slender crayfish (Cherax dispar).

In this study, we investigated the relationship between morphology, performance and social dominance in females of C. dispar. Based on current theory, we predicted chela size would reliably indicate chela strength and would relate indirectly to dominance via its influence on strength.

We found females that possessed large chelae were more likely to possess stronger chelae, and those individuals with stronger chelae were more likely to win competitive bouts. The best predictive model of the relationships among morphology, performance and dominance indicated chela size indirectly affected social dominance via its influence on strength, thus demonstrating displays of weaponry are reliable signals of fighting ability.

Reliable signals of strength among females of C. dispar supports current theory predicting stable signalling systems should largely consist of honest displays of strength. However, this contrasts with previous work demonstrating that male C. dispar routinely uses unreliable signals of weapon strength during agonistic encounters.
Keyword Honest signals
weapons
performance
signalling
dishonesty
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: 2009 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
 
Versions
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 23 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 21 times in Scopus Article | Citations
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Wed, 11 Feb 2009, 22:27:03 EST by Gail Walter on behalf of School of Biological Sciences