Differential aggressiveness between fire salamander (Salamandra infraimmaculata) larvae covaries with their genetic similarity

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Responding differentially to kin and non-kin is known to be adaptive in many species. One example is the inclusive fitness benefits of reducing aggression toward closer relatives. Little is known, however, about the ability of animals to assess differential degrees of genetic relatedness and to respond accordingly with differential levels of aggression. In the present study, we tested whether aggressiveness between body mass-matched pairs of fire salamander (Salamandra infraimmaculata) larvae covaried with the genetic similarity between them. We quantified aggressiveness at three levels of genetic similarity by selecting pairs within and across pools from recently genotyped populations. We also assessed aggression between pairs of siblings. Aggression and associated injuries decreased as genetic similarity increased across the groups. These findings suggest that cannibalistic salamanders can assess their degree of genetic relatedness to conspecifics and vary their behavioral responses depending on the degree of similarity between them along a genetic relatedness continuum.

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