Boldness is for rookies: prefight boldness and fighting success in a sea anemone
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© 2017 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour Fighting experience (specifically winning or losing a fight) can significantly alter boldness, a component of resource-holding potential (RHP). Previous studies have shown that both the repeatability of boldness and mean-level boldness can be affected by fighting experience and that these effects are strongest in the recipients of agonistic behaviour. However, whether these postfight changes in boldness impact future contest success and whether subsequent contests further affect boldness remain unknown. Furthermore, little is known about the effects of the specific tactics used within a fight (within-fight experience) and how these might influence future fight performance and boldness. Here, we investigated the relationship between fighting success and boldness (measured as recovery time when startled) across repeated contests in the beadlet sea anemone, Actinia equina, measuring boldness on five occasions before, between and after two contests. We found that boldness (both repeatability and mean-level) was generally robust to the effects of fighting experience, apart from a decrease in the immediate boldness of losers after their second fight. Furthermore, we found that while prefight boldness significantly predicted fighting success and the level of aggression used in an individual's first fight, it did not predict victory or aggression in the second fight. Our findings thus indicate that different traits may be important in determining fighting success in consecutive fights and, moreover, that fighting experience may alter which traits contribute to an individual's RHP.
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