Analysis of the targets and tactics of conspecific attack and predatory attack in northern grasshopper mice

Comparisons of tactics of fighting between species are often difficult to make since the body targets attacked may differ. Thus it becomes difficult to assess whether differences in fighting tactics are due to species?specific differences in the tactics themselves or due to the different targets attacked. A solution to this problem is to analyse the tactics of a species that attacks different targets under different circumstances. In this way, differences in tactics can be more readily attributed to differences in targets. In this study, resident male northern grasshopper mice (Onychomys leucogaster) were tested against intruding male conspecifics and against laboratory mice (Mus musculus domesticus). Conspecifics were mainly bitten on the lower dorsum, whereas prey were bitten and killed by bites to the nape of the neck. Therefore, it was possible to analyze the tactics of attack by grasshopper mice when attacking different body targets. For example, in order to defend the lower dorsum and the nape, both intruding conspecifics and prey adopted an upright defensive posture. Resident grasshopper mice used the lateral attack tactic to gain access to the lower flanks but not the nape. This illustrates that the lateral attack tactic is not merely a tactic suitable for overcoming the upright defense tactic, but is used in this context only when the target attacked is on the opponent’s posterior dorsum. Such withinpecies comparison enables the identification of the contextual rules which govern the use of fighting tactics. © 1992 Wiley?Liss, Inc. Copyright © 1992 Wiley?Liss, Inc., A Wiley Company

Comparisons of tactics of fighting between species are often difficult to make since the body targets attacked may differ. Thus it becomes difficult to assess whether differences in fighting tactics are due to species?specific differences in the tactics themselves or due to the different targets attacked. A solution to this problem is to analyse the tactics of a species that attacks different targets under different circumstances. In this way, differences in tactics can be more readily attributed to differences in targets. In this study, resident male northern grasshopper mice (Onychomys leucogaster) were tested against intruding male conspecifics and against laboratory mice (Mus musculus domesticus). Conspecifics were mainly bitten on the lower dorsum, whereas prey were bitten and killed by bites to the nape of the neck. Therefore, it was possible to analyze the tactics of attack by grasshopper mice when attacking different body targets. For example, in order to defend the lower dorsum and the nape, both intruding conspecifics and prey adopted an upright defensive posture. Resident grasshopper mice used the lateral attack tactic to gain access to the lower flanks but not the nape. This illustrates that the lateral attack tactic is not merely a tactic suitable for overcoming the upright defense tactic, but is used in this context only when the target attacked is on the opponent’s posterior dorsum. Such withinpecies comparison enables the identification of the contextual rules which govern the use of fighting tactics. © 1992 Wiley?Liss, Inc. Copyright © 1992 Wiley?Liss, Inc., A Wiley Company

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