The influence of recent social experience and physical environment on courtship and male aggression

Topi K Lehtonen, P Andreas Svensson, Bob B M Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Social and environmental factors can profoundly impact an individual's investment of resources into different components of reproduction. Such allocation trade-offs are expected to be amplified under challenging environmental conditions. To test these predictions, we used a desert-dwelling fish, the desert goby, Chlamydogobius eremius, to experimentally investigate the effects of prior social experience (with either a male or a female) on male investment in courtship and aggression under physiologically benign and challenging conditions (i.e., low versus high salinity). Results: We found that males maintained a higher level of aggression towards a rival after a recent encounter with a female, compared to an encounter with a male, under low (but not high) salinity. In contrast, male investment in courtship behaviour was unaffected by either salinity or social experience. Conclusion: Together, our results suggest that male investment in aggression and courtship displays can differ in their sensitivity to environmental conditions and that not all reproductive behaviours are similarly influenced by the same environmental context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Evolutionary Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Aggression
  • Behavioural plasticity
  • Courtship display
  • Encounter rate
  • Environmental effect
  • Physiological cost
  • Salinity
  • Sexual signal
  • Social experience

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