Aggressive behaviour plays a fundamental role in the distribution of limiting resources. Thereby, it is expected to have consequences for fitness. Here, we explored the relationship between aggression and fitness in a long-term database collected in a wild population of the collared flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis). We quantified the aggression of males during nest-site defence by conducting simulated territorial intrusions in the courtship period. We estimated the fitness of males based on their pairing success, breeding output and survival to next year. Earlier arriving and older males had a higher probability to establish pair-bond, and males that started to breed earlier fledged more young. Aggression did not predict pairing and breeding performances. However, the probability of a male to return in the next year was significantly related to aggression in an age-dependent manner. Among subadult males, more aggressive individuals had higher chances to return, while among adult males, less aggressive ones did so. This finding is in harmony with our general observation that subadult collared flycatcher males behave more aggressively than adult males when confronted with a conspecific intruder. Subadult males may be socially inexperienced, so they should be more aggressive to be successful. In contrast, if adult males suffer from higher physiological costs, a lower level of aggression may be more advantageous for them. Our study shows that aggressive behaviour can be a fitness-related trait, and to understand its role in determining fitness, age should be taken into account.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics