The authors used information from the previous research on kin-biased behavior in territorial animals to explain fitness benefits among salmon. Increase in the growth rate of subordinate fish results in fitness benefits among salmon due to better survival and shorter life cycle. Therefore, salmon kin shared food due to increased feeding by subordinate kin.
The authors used wild juvenile Atlantic salmon and varied the position of food patches spatially and temporarily to determine the following. In the presence of high-quality feeding patches, the authors wanted to know the likelihood of dominant fish in pairs sharing food with kin than non-kin. Second, in the absence of the dominant individual, the authors wanted to know the sustainability of kin-based intimidation from dominant to subordinate.
Regarding experimental animals, the authors harvested the eggs and milt from adult salmon and produced kin groups. The authors fertilized eggs from one female with milt from one male to produce a family. Using the FRS Almond bank laboratory, the authors performed an experiment that included pairing juvenile salmon and releasing them into each test arena. After introducing the fish, the authors started to observe the dominance status of fish.
Results show that the pairing of subordinate salmon with satiated dominant kin resulted in the consumption of a greater share of food than when paired with non-kin. Second, when the authors removed a half of the dominant fish from pairs of salmon, there was an increase in the feeding activity by subordinate fish with dominant kin than those that were previously paired with dominant non-kin.
In conclusion, the findings show that close association of subordinate fish with dominant kin and increased sharing of territory may result in them gaining foraging advantages. Also, subordinate fish may benefit from the reduction in the duration for food acquisition. According to the authors, intimidation influences the way animals use resources. Moderation of tolerance helps animals to accrue fitness benefits.
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