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Agonistic displays and the benefits of fighting in the field cricket, Gryllus bimaculatus

Fighting is often composed of discrete agonistic displays. Few studies have partitioned fighting behavior into its component agonistic displays and evaluated the relationships between the frequency of the displays and the potential benefits of fighting, particularly mating success. In this study, we quantified the frequency of male field cricket, Gryllus bimaculatus, agonistic displays. The displays were quantified under three social environments which varied in the potential benefits of fighting: males with other males only, males with other males and female scents, and males with other males and females. We found that (1) the presence of females elicited an increase in agonistic displays characteristic of intermediate levels of escalation, (2) female scents did not produce a similar increase in the frequency of agonistic displays, and (3) in the presence of females, the frequency of agonistic displays was positively correlated with mating success. Aggressive stridulation, an energetically low-cost display, was more strongly associated with mating success than were more costly displays. The results are discussed in the context of the evolutionary theory of aggression and in the context of cricket mating systems.

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