Responding differentially to kin and non-kin is known to be adaptive in many species. One example is the inclusive fitness benefits of reducing aggression toward closer relatives. Little is known, however, about the ability of animals to assess differential degrees of genetic relatedness and to respond accordingly with differential levels of aggression. In the present study, we tested whether aggressiveness between body mass-matched pairs of fire salamander (Salamandra infraimmaculata) larvae covaried with the genetic similarity between them. We quantified aggressiveness at three levels of genetic similarity by selecting pairs within and across pools from recently genotyped populations. We also assessed aggression between pairs of siblings. Aggression and associated injuries decreased as genetic similarity increased across the groups. These findings suggest that cannibalistic salamanders can assess their degree of genetic relatedness to conspecifics and vary their behavioral responses depending on the degree of similarity between them along a genetic relatedness continuum.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Acknowledgements We thank Yoav Shulman for help in collecting and maintaining the adult females. We also thank Alan Templeton, Marc Mangel, Yoav Shulman, Asaf Sadeh, Alon Silberbush, Ori Segev, Nir Peleg, and Shirli Bar-David for fruitful discussions and R. W. Elwood and two anonymous reviewers for constructive comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. Permission to use the Salamandra was granted by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. This study was funded by US–Israel Binational Science Foundation grant 2002-365 awarded to L. B. and Marc Mangel. The experiment complies with the current animal protection laws of Israel.
- Aggressive behavior
- Fire salamander
- Genetic relatedness assessment
- Kin recognition
- Salamandra infraimmaculata
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology