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Fiddler crabs reveal honesty is not always the best policy
Date:11/11/2008

es with original claws from the size of those major claws, regenerated claws don't reveal any information on performance capacities. Males with regenerated claws can 'bluff' their fighting ability, like bluffing in a poker game. They're not good fighters, but the deceptive appearance of their claw allows them to convince other males that it's not worth picking a fight with them. The only time it doesn't work is when regenerated males hold territories, which means they can't go around choosing their opponents - they have to fight everyone who challenges them, and eventually someone will come along and expose their bluff." Lailvaux explains.

The study is important because it helps shed light on an issue - dishonesty - that is by definition hard to study. "One of the reasons we don't know a huge amount about dishonesty is because it's tough to pick up on it. Dishonest signals are designed to be difficult to detect, so to have a system like fiddler crabs where we're able to do experiments and test hypotheses about dishonesty is pretty cool," he says.

The results also have important implications for individual reproductive success and survival, as understanding the mechanisms and consequences of dishonesty is essential to uncovering the full story of how these and other animals live, die and reproduce.

According to Lailvaux: "By studying exactly how animals fight, and what physiological and performance capacities enable males to win fights, we're getting closer to identifying which traits are likely to be generally important for male combat. Honest signalling is important for several reasons, primarily because it's important that fights don't always escalate into bloody violence. Fighting can be costly in terms of time and energy, and it's in an individual's best interest to avoid risking being injured in a fight, so one of the reasons why we think honest signalling has evolved is because animals need to have a diplomatic option for settling d
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Contact: Melanie Thomson
melanie.thomson@wiley.com
01-865-476-270
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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