Attack and defense in conspecific fighting in tree shrews (Tupaia belangeri)

RJ Blanchard*, F Ohl, M van Kampen, DC Blanchard, E Fuchs, Frauke Ohl

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Principles of conspecific defense have been analyzed for rodents, in which specific target sites for biting by attackers on defenders serve as an important determinant of the actions involved in both attacker and defender behavior. In an effort to determine the generality of these principles, attack and defensive behaviors and target sites fur biting attack were evaluated in a nonrodent species, the tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri). Brief daily and repeated conspecific dyadic encounters between adult, socially experienced males (dominants, attackers), and adult, socially naive males (subordinates, defenders) that had been transferred into the territory of the dominants, produced a polarization of attack and defense. The dominant males showed chase, chase attack,jump attack, and biting behaviors, while the subordinates displayed night and freezing. The vast majority of bites, as well as wounds and bruises, were on the subordinates' backs, These patterns are very similar to those previously found in rats and mice and suggest that the organization of fighting, with targets of biting (or other painful) attack serving as an important determinant of both attacker (dominant) and defender (subordinate) behavior, may show considerable generality across nonrodent as well as rodent species. Although relatively few wounds were found after 28 days of repeated and daily encounters, the subordinate tree shrews show a variety of behavioral, neuroendocrine, and central nervous changes, indicating that they are stressed by these encounters per se. (C) 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)139-148
    Number of pages10
    JournalAggressive Behavior
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


    • aggression
    • attack behavior
    • defense
    • defensive behavior
    • bite target
    • social stress
    • dominance
    • submission
    • tree shrew
    • MEMORY
    • COMBAT


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