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A Test of the Sequential Assessment Game: Fighting in the Bowl and Doily Spider Frontinella pyramitela

Olof Leimar, Steven Austad and Magnus Equist
Evolution
Vol. 45, No. 4 (Jun., 1991), pp. 862-874
DOI: 10.2307/2409694
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2409694
Page Count: 13
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A Test of the Sequential Assessment Game: Fighting in the Bowl and Doily Spider Frontinella pyramitela
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Abstract

Male bowl and doily spiders (Frontinella pyramitela: Linyphiidae) engage in dangerous fights over access to females. Relatively smaller individuals are more at risk of fatal injury than their larger opponents. Males assess relative fighting ability during contests: smaller individuals tend to give up quickly. Fights occur between a male with information about the value of the contested female (number of fertilizable eggs) and an intruding male with less information. In this paper, a sequential assessment game (a game theory model of fighting behavior) is adapted to male combat in the bowl and doily spider to attempt a quantitative test. The model makes predictions about fight duration, probability of winning, and the occurrence of fatalities as a function of resource value and size asymmetry. Comparison with empirical data from staged contests yields a generally good quantitative agreement with the predictions. A few deviations are also noted.

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