Skills —— one of the important factors determining fighting ability


A popular way to study animal fights is to analyze the resource holding potential (RHP, also known as fighting ability), as well as the duration and results of the game. When other conditions are equal, the higher the RPH, the higher the combat effectiveness. If other conditions are not equal, individual size, strength, and overall endurance are also crucial to the outcome of animal fights. But it is clear that individuals who are more skilled in fighting are more likely to win.


There are many benefits to be gained by quantifying the actual fighting behavior of animals in combat. We get these different skills by studying genes, game fighting and real fighting. Experienced combat can give more damage to opponents by keeping excitement for a long time, and improve RHP by minimizing the chance of damage. Skills are directly related to the outcome of the competition and change with the progress of the battle; in addition, we can distinguish the winner and the loser by the change of skills during the competition Therefore, skills are neglected but important factor of fighting ability, which is very convenient to study and can get new opinions on the change of competition behavior.


Although there is some evidence, the impact of skills on the outcome of combat is still an unsolved problem. If fighting animals have become both skilled and competitive, then we should see differences in fighting behavior between winners and losers, as well as between individuals with different experiences and environments.


Behavioural ecology

Subject Group

Zoology and Ecology






Posted by


on Tue Mar 17 2020

Article ID


Details of original research article:

Briffa M, Lane SM. The role of skill in animal contests: a neglected component of fighting ability. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 2017;284:20171596.

Preceded by:

Understanding the interactions between individual animals requires appreciating that they have flexible responses to each other, rather than have fixed behaviour

Posted by: AndrewDHigginson Posted Fri Oct 27 2017

Conflicts between animals may be decided by which is bigger, but also by some ‘convention’, such as who found a resource first, that enables animals to avoid fighting too much

Posted by: AndrewDHigginson Posted Fri Oct 27 2017

Followed by:

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