Damage from intraspecific combat is costly

Zachary Emberts, Ummat Somjee, John J. Wiens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When individuals engage in fights with conspecifics over access to resources, injuries can occur. Most theoretical models suggest that the costs associated with these injuries should influence an individual's decision to retreat from a fight. Thus, damage from intraspecific combat is frequently noted and quantified. However, the fitness-related costs associated with this damage are not. Quantifying the cost of fighting-related damage is important because most theoretical models assume that it is the cost associated with the damage (not the damage itself) that should influence an individual's decision to retreat. Here, we quantified the cost of fighting-related injuries in the giant mesquite bug, Thasus neocalifornicus. We demonstrate that experimentally simulated fighting injuries result in metabolic costs and costs to flight performance. We also show that flight costs are more severe when the injuries are larger. Overall, our results provide empirical support for the fundamental assumption that damage acquired during intraspecific combat is costly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1240-1245
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioral Ecology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021


  • damage
  • fight
  • injury
  • intrasexual competition
  • intraspecific competition
  • male-male combat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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