Meeting Abstract

P2.1  Thursday, Jan. 5  Do Betta splendens females eavesdrop on female-female aggressive interactions? WEST, J.*; MURPHY, T.G.; Trinity University; Trinity University jwest5@trinity.edu

Research on animal communication is often concerned with dyadic interactions. When these dyadic signaling interactions occur in more complex social environments, eavesdropping is often favored. Eavesdropping occurs when an individual gains information from a signaling interaction in which she is not directly involved. Several studies have found evidence of eavesdropping in the fish species Betta splendens; both males and females have been shown to eavesdrop on male-male aggressive interactions. Females of this species are also fairly aggressive, so we investigated whether females also eavesdrop on female-female aggressive interactions. To explore this question we conducted dominance trials, in which a pair of females competed over food in front of an unseen observer. We then conducted choice trials, in which the observer was allowed to feed by either competitor. We found no evidence that Betta splendens females eavesdrop on female-female aggressive interactions. There are several potential reasons for this outcome. One possibility is that females do eavesdrop on female-female interactions, but could not gain useful information from observing dominance trials in this experiment. Similarly, it is possible that the female observers gained useful information from eavesdropping, but it was overridden by information available through interacting with the competitors in the choice trials. Another possibility is that females do not eavesdrop in this context. This last possibility would be interesting because females of this species have been shown to eavesdrop in other contexts. Further research is needed to elucidate the extent of eavesdropping behavior in Betta splendens females.