Analysis of direct and indirect genetic effects in fighting sea anemones
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Theoretical models of animal contests such as the Hawk-Dove game predict that variation in fighting behavior will persist due to mixed evolutionarily stable strategies (ESS) under certain conditions. However, the genetic basis for this variation is poorly understood and a mixed ESS for fighting can be interpreted in more than one way. Specifically, we do not know whether variation in aggression within a population arises from among-individual differences in fixed strategy (determined by an individual's genotype-direct genetic effects [DGEs]), or from within-individual variation in strategy across contests. Furthermore, as suggested by developments of the original Hawk-Dove model, within-individual variation in strategy may be dependent on the phenotype and thus genotype of the opponent (indi-rect genetic effects-IGEs). Here we test for the effect of DGEs and IGEs during fights in the beadlet sea anemone Actinia equina. By exploiting the unusual reproductive system of sea anemones, combined with new molecular data, we investigate the role of both additive (DGE + IGE) and non-additive (DGE × IGE) genetic effects on fighting parameters, the latter of which have been hypothesized but never tested for explicitly. We find evidence for heritable variation in fighting ability and that fight duration increases with relatedness. Fighting success is influenced additively by DGEs and IGEs but we found no evidence for non-additive IGEs. These results indicate that variation in fighting behavior is driven by additive indirect genetic effects (DGE + IGE), and support a core assumption of contest theory that strategies are fixed by DGEs.
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