eCite Digital Repository

Sequential size assessment and multicomponent decision rules mediate aerial wasp contests


Kemp, DJ and Alcock, J and Allen, GR, Sequential size assessment and multicomponent decision rules mediate aerial wasp contests, Animal Behaviour, 71, (2) pp. 279-287. ISSN 0003-3472 (2006) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2005.03.038


In aerial conflicts among territorial insects, injury costs are not obviously high and contestants cannot physically 'force the issue'. Resource-holding potential in these cases usually relates to morphological and/or biophysical determinants of flight performance and endurance rather than traditional parameters such as size and strength. However, success is sometimes related to body size. Males of the landmark-defending wasp Hemipepsis ustulata compete via elaborate noncontact aerial duels in which large individuals enjoy an advantage. We evaluated the hypothesis that size is important because of a correlation with high-performance flight. We used a residency manipulation to establish 92 escalated contests in which some individuals had the outer 16-18% of their forewings removed to reduce flight performance (independently of body size). Initial residents won most (78%) contests, but logistic analysis indicated that no other parameter, including size, wing treatment and age, could explain the pattern of contest outcome. Survival regression analysis implicated size, age and site location, but not wing treatment, as significant predictors of nonresident contest persistence. We also found evidence of assessment of relative body size. Since our wing treatment had no measurable effect, the importance of body size does not appear as an emergent property of a system in which contest ability is determined primarily by flight performance dynamics. We conclude that aerial contests in H. ustulata are mediated by complex multicomponent decision rules, in which contest role, relative body size, age and perception of resource value collectively determine a contestant's persistence time. © 2005 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Population ecology
Objective Division:Plant Production and Plant Primary Products
Objective Group:Forestry
Objective Field:Hardwood plantations
UTAS Author:Allen, GR (Associate Professor Geoff Allen)
ID Code:33923
Year Published:2006
Web of Science® Times Cited:32
Deposited By:Agricultural Science
Deposited On:2006-08-01
Last Modified:2012-03-05

Repository Staff Only: item control page