Mouterde, S. C., Duganzich, D. M., Molles, L. E., Helps, S., Helps, F., & Waas, J. R. (2012). Triumph displays inform eavesdropping little blue penguins of new dominance asymmetries. Animal Behaviour, 83(3), 605-611.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/8055
Agonistic signals used during contests over important resources have been extensively studied; postconflict signals have received comparatively little attention. While ‘triumph displays’, performed by winners following fights, have been described for many species, no experiment has yet assessed one of the main hypotheses explaining their existence: advertising victory to social eavesdroppers. Our experiments evaluated the impact of triumph calls on the behaviour and stress responses of surrounding penguins. We found that territorial male little blue penguins, Eudyptula minor, having previously been exposed to playback of a vocal exchange between conspecifics followed by the sounds of a fight, had higher heart rates in response to the winner’s call than that of the loser; females had high rates in response to both winners and losers. Males were also less likely to threaten winners than losers vocally during a simulated approach of their burrow, while females remained silent in both contexts. Our findings support the hypothesis that triumph calls facilitate an association of winners’ distinctive vocalizations with stress generated by nearby overt aggression. By advertising their victories, males may establish a ‘reputation’ for winning fights within the social group, potentially reducing the likelihood of being challenged by eavesdroppers in future contests.