Objective and subjective components of resource value in lethal fights between male entomopathogenic nematodes


Kapranas A, Zenner ANRL, Mangan R & Griffin CT (2020) Objective and subjective components of resource value in lethal fights between male entomopathogenic nematodes. Animal Behaviour, 164, pp. 149-154.

Males sometimes engage in fights over contested resources such as access to mates; in this case, fighting behaviour may be adjusted based on the value they place on the females. Resource value (RV) can have two components. First, males can assess the quality of females, which constitutes an objective assessment of RV. Second, internal state such as previous mating experience can also influence motivation to fight thus constituting a subjective assessment of RV. If mating opportunities are scarce and available females have a major impact on the lifetime reproductive success of males, then fighting can be fatal; in this situation it is uncertain whether males would adjust fighting behaviour based on RV. We found that both female quality, that is, virginity (objective component of RV) and male mating status (subjective component of RV) influenced fighting intensity between males of the entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema longicaudum which engage in lethal fights. Male nematodes were more likely to engage in fighting and fought longer and more frequently in the presence of virgin (high-quality) females than in the presence of mated (lower-quality) females. Male mating status was also found to influence fighting behaviour: mated males were the winners in staged fights between mated and virgin males. Mated males may have superior fighting ability (greater resource-holding potential), but RV asymmetries between mated and virgin males cannot be excluded. Males were more likely to win when they were resident, but we did not find a significant interaction effect between male mating and residency status.

entomopathogenic nematodes; female quality; lethal fights; male mating status; resource value

Animal Behaviour: Volume 164

FundersEuropean Commission (Horizon 2020)
Publication date30/06/2020
Publication date online15/05/2020
Date accepted by journal10/03/2020