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Dominance hierarchies and status recognition in the crayfish Procambarus acutus acutus

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In the eastern white river crayfish, Procambarus acutus acutus, the processes that act during hierarchy formation were explored by analyzing the behavior of 23 symmetric pairs of form I males. The experimental design comprised three subsequent phases: isolation, familiarization, and experimental phases. In the latter, pairs were formed of (i) unfamiliar opponents having different status, (ii, iii) unfamiliar opponents having the same status, either two alphas or two betas, and (iv) familiar opponents. The first result was that P. a. acutus is capable of establishing stable dominance hierarchies. Secondly, behavioral differences between the winners and the losers, a fast assessment of status, and self-reinforcing effects of recent experience were demonstrated. Thirdly, P. a. acutus was found to recognize the status of its rival but not its individual identity. In fact, even if paired with unfamiliar opponents, previous winners and losers behaved as in the preceding days. Conversely, both frequency and intensity of fighting increased when individuals of the same rank were opposed. These phenomena might be a consequence of "winning and losing effects". However, the increased readiness of former betas to attack contradicts the loser effect and validates the hypothesis of status recognition.

L'analyse du comportement de 23 paires symétriques de mâles de forme I a permis d'explorer les processus qui sont en action durant la formation des hiérarchies chez l'écrevisse blanche de rivière de l'est, Procambarus acutus acutus. Le plan d'expérience comporte trois phases subséquentes, l'isolement, la familiarisation et la phase expérimentale. Dans les expériences, il y a formation de paires (i) de protagonistes non familiers de statuts différents, (ii, iii) de protagonistes non familiers de même statut, soit deux alphas ou deux bêtas et (iv) de protagonistes familiers. Le premier résultat est que P. a. acutus est capable d'établir des hiérarchies de dominance stables. Deuxièmement, il y a des différences comportementales entre les gagnants et les perdants, ce qui permet une détermination rapide du statut; il y a aussi des effets d'auto-renforcement basés sur l'expérience récente. Troisièmement, P. a. acutus est capable de reconnaître le statut de son rival, mais pas son identité. En effet, même appariés avec des protagonistes non familiers, les gagnants et les perdants des joutes antérieures agissent comme aux jours précédents. En revanche, la fréquence et l'intensité des combats augmentent tous deux lorsque des individus de même rang sont mis en opposition. Ces phénomènes peuvent être les conséquences des « effets du gagnant et du perdant ». Cependant, l'empressement à l'attaque d'individus antérieurement classés comme bêtas contredit l'effet du perdant et valide l'hypothèse de la reconnaissance du statut.[Traduit par la Rédaction]
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-07-01

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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