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Current Zoology





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Many territorial animals exhibit reduced aggression towards neighbours. Known as “the dear enemy effect”, this phenomenon has been documented among conspecific animals across a wide range of animal taxa. In theory, the dear enemy effect can also exist between individuals of different species, particularly when those species compete for shared resources. To date, a heterospecific dear enemy effects has only been documented in ants. In this study, we test for both a conspecific and heterospecific dear enemy effect in neotropical rufous-and-white wrens Thryophilus rufalbus. This species competes for resources with banded wrens Thryophilus pleurostictus, a closely related sympatric congener. We used acoustic playback to simulate rufous- and-white wren and banded wren neighbours and non-neighbours at the edges of rufous-and-white wren territories. Rufous- and-white wrens responded more strongly to signals from their own species, demonstrating that resident males discriminate between conspecific and heterospecific rivals. They did not, however, exhibit a conspecific dear enemy effect. Further, they did not exhibit a heterospecific dear enemy effect. This could be due to neighbours and non-neighbours posing similar levels of threat in this system, to the possibility that playback from the edges of the subjects’ large territories did not simulate a threatening signal, or to other factors. Our study provides the first test of a heterospecific dear enemy effect in vertebrates, and presents a valuable experimental approach for testing for a heterospecific dear enemy effect in other animals © 2015 Current Zoology.

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