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Information gathering during contests: the relationship between lateralisation and contestant behaviour during fallow deer fights

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Domhnall Jennings


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One class of model relating to animal contest behaviour assumes that individuals gather information concerning their opponents’ competitive ability; these models argue that such a process allows contestants to avoid engaging in dangerous fighting behaviour with a superior opponent. The brain hemispheres of vertebrates are lateralized in that they are specialized for processing different type of information. Within the context of the current study, we might expect that lateralization would play a role in facilitating the assessment of opponent quality; nevertheless, the degree of lateralization shown by individuals can vary suggesting that contest behaviour might also vary based on the ability to process information about competitor quality. The current study tests this hypothesis by predicting that the duration that individuals engage in fighting and the rate of aggressive contest actions should decrease as laterality increases. There was a negative relationship between two laterality indices – LI for number and the duration of time spent engaged in fighting and LI for duration spent in parallel walk and difference in the mean number of backward pushes achieved during fights. Overall the results show for the first time that lateralization during lateral displays plays an important role in contestant behaviour.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jennings DJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Behavioural Processes

Year: 2014

Volume: 103

Pages: 278-282

Print publication date: 01/03/2014

ISSN (print): 0376-6357

ISSN (electronic): 1872-8308

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.beproc.2014.01.014


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