Winner-loser effects overrule aggressiveness during the early stages of contests between pigs

Lucy Oldham, Irene Camerlink, Gareth Arnott, Andrea Doeschl-Wilson, M Farish, SP Turner

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Abstract

Contest behaviour, and in particular the propensity to attack an unfamiliar conspecific, is influenced by an individual’s aggressiveness, as well as by experience of winning and losing (so called ‘winner-loser effects’). Individuals vary in aggressiveness and susceptibility to winner-loser effects but the relationship between these drivers of contest behaviour has been poorly investigated. Here we hypothesise that the winner-loser effect on initiation of agonistic behaviour (display, non-damaging aggression, biting and mutual fighting) is influenced by aggressiveness.
Pigs (n=255) were assayed for aggressiveness (tendency to attack in resident-intruder tests) and then experienced two dyadic contests (age 10 and 13 weeks). Agonistic behaviour, up to reciprocal fighting, in contest 2 was compared between individuals of different aggressiveness in the RI test and experiences of victory or defeat in contest 1. Winner-loser effects were more influential than aggressiveness in determining initiation of agonistic behaviour. After accruing more skin lesions in contest 1, individuals were less likely to engage in escalated aggression in contest 2. The interaction between aggressiveness and winner-loser experience did not influence contest behaviour. The results suggest that aggressiveness does not compromise learning from recent contest experience and that reducing aggressiveness is unlikely to affect how animals experience winning and losing.
Original languageEnglish
Article number13338
JournalScientific Reports
Volume10
Early online date7 Aug 2020
DOIs
Publication statusFirst published - 7 Aug 2020

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