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Determinants of territory size of the dusky gregory

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To test the effect of food abundance and intruder pressure as determinants of territory size, the dusky gregory Stegastesnigricans were used as subjects on a coral reef in southern Taiwan during November to December 2000. Adults were used as intruders to provoke aggressiveness in a conspecific territory owner. The owner's maximum distance of attack (MDA) was used to delineate the territory size. While the owner of a territory appeared to defend a single boundary against different conspecifics, size variations among territories were evident. The effect of an intruder's identity on territory‐size regulation was not clear because for each territory examined, the MDA was found to be neither linked to the body size of the intruder nor to the amount of algae in the intruder's territory. Moreover, no significant differences were found between the MDAs that the owner maintained against neighbours and non‐neighbours even though, when conspecifics intruded in pairs, the probability was significantly higher for the first attack to be launched on a neighbour than on a non‐neighbour. Also when a neighbour and a non‐neighbour appeared simultaneously near the territory, the bite rate against the neighbour was also significantly higher. An inverse relationship between the amount of algae in the defended territory and the MDA of the owner indicates that food abundance might account for variations among territories. By contrast, territory size was not linked to the body size of the owner.

Keywords: Stegastes nigricans; damselfish; familiarity; food abundance; maximum distance of attack; neighbour

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: Institute of Zoology, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan 11529, Republic of China and 2: Institute of Oceanography, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China

Publication date: December 1, 2003

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