Animals fight over resources such as mating partners, territory, food or shelter and repeated contests lead to stable social hierarchies in different phyla. The group dynamics of hierarchy formation are not characterized in the Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus). Lobsters spend most of the day in burrows and forage outside of them according to a diel (i.e. 24 h-based) activity rhythm. Here, we use a linear and generalized mixed model approach to analyse, in seven groups of four male lobsters, the formation of dominance hierarchies and rank-related changes in burrowing behaviour. We show that hierarchies emerge within 1–3 days and increase in steepness over aperiod of 5 days, while rank changes and number of fights gradually decrease over a 5-day period. The rank position determined by open area fights predicts the outcome of fights over burrows, the time spent in burrows, and the locomotor activity levels. Dominant lobsters are more likely to evict subordinate lobsters from their burrows and are more successful in defending their own burrows. They spend more time in burrows and display lower levels of locomotor activity outside the burrow. Lobsters do not change their diel activity rhythms as aresult of a change in rank, and all tested individuals showed higher activity at night and dusk compared with dawn and daytime. We discuss how behavioural changes in burrowing behaviour could lead to rank-related benefits such as reduced exposure to predators and energy savings.
Fighting over burrows: the emergence of dominance hierarchies in the Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus)
Sbragaglia, V., Leiva, D., Arias, A., Garcı́a, J. A., Aguzzi, J., Breithaupt, T. (2017). Fighting over burrows: the emergence of dominance hierarchies in the Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus). Journal of Experimental Biology, 220, 4624-4633
Appeared in : Journal of Experimental Biology, 220, 4624-4633