The data on agonistic behavior of muroid rodents that have been obtained from field observations and laboratory experiments are reviewed and compared in terms of a hypothetical model of the neural organization of these behaviors. The neural model has been presented elsewhere and is used here only as a way to organize the data. The data are organized in terms of four hypothetical motivational systems: Offense, defense, submission, and patrol/marking. The various behaviors are considered as motor patterns and are compared and analyzed in terms of the proposed motivating, releasing, and directing stimuli of the motivational systems. Interactions and overlaps between the motivational systems are also considered. It is concluded that the organization of agonistic behavior may be similar across all species of muroid rodents. Generalizations are complicated by the profound effects of ontogenetic factors. Four categories of behaviors differ from species to species: Scent-marking, submissive behaviors, threat behaviors, and alarm signals. The possible phylogenetic and ontogenetic factors in these differences are considered.
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