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Data from: Female anoles display less but attack more quickly than males in response to territorial intrusions


Reedy, Aaron M. et al. (2017), Data from: Female anoles display less but attack more quickly than males in response to territorial intrusions, Dryad, Dataset,


Fighting to defend a territory can be costly due to the risk of injury associated with physical combat. Therefore, many species rely on displays that allow individuals to assess one another, avoid escalation, and mitigate the costs of physical conflict. Most studies of territorial aggression have been conducted in the context of male–male competition, and although females of many species are also aggressive, direct comparisons of male–male and female–female aggression are rare. Consequently, the relative extent to which males and females of territorial species use behavioral displays and physical aggression to mediate intrasexual competition is generally unknown. To address this question, we experimentally introduced same-sex intruders onto the territories of male and female brown anole lizards (Anolis sagrei). We found that, although males were slightly more likely to attack an intruder than were females, males also allowed a greater amount of time to elapse before escalating to an attack, relative to females. Males also exhibited more aggressive display behaviors (dewlap extensions, push-ups, and head-bobs) before engaging in a physical attack. These results are consistent with the idea that, due to a potentially greater risk of injury, males may attempt to avoid escalating to physical conflict. The high rates of attack and low latency to attack that we observed for interactions between females also run counter to the general assumption that males are categorically more aggressive in territorial, polygynous species characterized by extreme male-biased sexual size dimorphism.

Usage Notes


National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1453089


North Florida