Ferocious fighting between male grasshoppers

Kate D. L. Umbers, Nikolai J. Tatarnic, Gregory I. Holwell, Marie E. Herberstein

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    22 Citations (Scopus)
    14 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    Contests among individuals over mating opportunities are common across diverse taxa, yet physical conflict is relatively rare. Due to the potentially fatal consequences of physical fighting, most animals employ mechanisms of conflict resolution involving signalling and ritualistic assessment. Here we provide the first evidence of ubiquitous escalated fighting in grasshoppers. The chameleon grasshopper (Kosciuscola tristis) is an Australian alpine specialist, in which males engage in highly aggressive combat over ovipositing females. We describe discrete agonistic behaviours including mandible flaring, mounting, grappling, kicking and biting, and their use depending on the individual's role as challenger or defender. We show that male role predicts damage, with challengers being more heavily damaged than males defending females (defenders). Challengers also possess wider mandibles than defenders, but are similar in other metrics of body size. Our data suggest that fights escalate between males matched in body size and that mandibles are used as weapons in this species. This system represents an exciting opportunity for future research into the evolution of costly fighting behaviour in an otherwise placid group.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere49600
    Pages (from-to)1-5
    Number of pages5
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Volume7
    Issue number11
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2012

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) [2012]. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

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