Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 July 2020
Aggressive behaviour is common in animals and typically has lifetime consequences. As younger males have higher residual reproductive value than older males and lose more from injuries than older males do, the propensity for fighting tends to increase with age in many empirical reports and species. However, fighting patterns in those empirical reports cannot confirm the hypothesis that individuals cannot readily inflict injuries on their opponents. To address this shortcoming, a parasitoid wasp species, Anastatus disparis (Hymenoptera: Eupelmidae), was used as an experimental model to explore the characteristics of aggression from a life-history perspective; this wasp exhibits extreme fighting, resulting in contestants experiencing injury and death. Results showed that the energetic costs of fighting to injury significantly shortened life and caused the loss of most mating ability. Inconsistent with general predictions, the frequency and intensity of fighting in A. disparis significantly decreased with male age. Further study results showed significantly more young males were received by and successfully mated with virgin females, and most genes related to energy metabolism were downregulated in aged males. Our study provided supporting evidence that young A. disparis males show more aggression likely because of their resource holding potential and sexual attractiveness decline with age.
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