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Chemosensory assessment of rival body size is based on chemosignal concentration in male Spanish terrapins

AutorIbáñez Ricomá, Alejandro; Marzal, Alfonso; López Martínez, Pilar ; Martín Rueda, José
Fecha de publicación13-sep-2014
CitaciónBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 68(12): 2005-2012 (2014)
Resumen© 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Assessment of the fighting ability of potential opponents is an essential skill to minimize the costs of agonistic interactions between males. Previous research showed that chemical cues released in the water by male turtles may convey information about body size, which is important for intrasexual competition. However, the mechanistic basis of such chemical signaling of body size remains poorly understood. Here, we aimed to experimentally examine whether the release of chemosignals is quantitatively or qualitatively dependent on body size in male Spanish terrapins Mauremys leprosa. We compared the time that turtles spent in a pool with clean water versus water containing chemical stimuli of conspecific males of different body sizes at two different concentrations (“diluted” or “undiluted”). Male terrapins avoided water with chemicals secreted by relatively larger males when these chemicals were undiluted, but not after the chemical stimuli were diluted. In contrast, male terrapins did not avoid chemicals of relatively smaller males in any treatment. Thus, male M. leprosa may assess the size of their rivals on the basis of the concentration or the amounts of their chemical cues released into the water and consequently avoid occupying these ponds with higher concentrations of chemicals. This study gives important hints about the mechanism of chemical signaling in freshwater turtles and demonstrates that male turtles may discriminate different concentrations of chemosignals of conspecifics and modify their behavior accordingly. Likewise, our results support the notion that relative body size is a key factor during male interactions in Spanish terrapins.
Identificadoresdoi: 10.1007/s00265-014-1806-8
issn: 0340-5443
e-issn: 1432-0762
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