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Transition from a random to an ideal free to an ideal despotic distribution: the effect of individual difference in growth

Hakoyama, H. and Iguchi, K.

Individual differences in growth can lead to a monopolistic form of food competition. We studied the long-term transition in the mode of competition and the distribution of individuals between food patches of the cloned salmonid fish, Oncorhynchus masou ishikawae, in the laboratory. This transition was accompanied by growth depensation, i.e., the increase over time in the variance of size between individuals resulting from the differences in individual growth rates. The 120-cm experimental tanks were divided into two compartments (patches) between which an opaque partition was placed. Fish were able to move freely between the patches and therefore were able to assess the patch quality using long-term memory, but they were not able to see the food input in the other patch directly. The distribution between the two food patches, the amount of food gained, and the growth and the agonistic behavior of four groups of six individuals were observed over 4 weeks. We found that (1) within-group variation in body weight increased with time; (2) on average, the better patch was used by more individuals than predicted by a random distribution but fewer individuals than predicted by an ideal free distribution, and (3) the distribution and pattern of resource use by the fish changed over the 4-week experimental period from a random distribution to an ideal free distribution and finally to an ideal despotic distribution. We suggest that growth depensation causes the long-term change in the spatial distribution and pattern of resource use by competitors.

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