Sensory cues underlying competitive growth in the clown anemonefish (Amphiprion percula)
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In some animal societies, access to breeding depends on the individual’s position in a hierarchy, which often depends on an individual’s size. In such societies, individuals may engage in competitive growth, trying to outgrow one another to attain a higher rank. This suggests that members of the hierarchy can track changes in the growth and size of potential competitors and respond accordingly. The clown anemonefish, Amphiprion percula, is one species known to exhibit competitive growth at the initiation of size hierarchies. Here, we use 5 combinations of sensory cues to determine which cues must be available to initiate competitive growth between size-matched individuals. Our results show that mechanosensory (pressure and/or touch) cues are used to assess size and initiate competitive growth. This study provides an understanding into the relationship between environment and phenotypic response in a social context.