Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 201–208

The relationship between social dominance, subcutaneous fat, and annual survival in wintering white-throated sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis)

  • W. H. Piper
  • R. H. Wiley

DOI: 10.1007/BF00172087

Cite this article as:
Piper, W.H. & Wiley, R.H. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (1990) 26: 201. doi:10.1007/BF00172087


We used multivariate analysis to identify factors correlated with level of subcutaneous fat (a form of stored energy) in a migratory, wintering population of white-throated sparrows. Dominant birds, residents from previous years, and birds residing in certain regions of the study area tended to have high mean fat levels during January and February. On the basis of differences in levels of fat, dominant prior residents could probably survive 50% longer without food than subordinate newcomers. An additional analysis revealed that dominant sparrows returned more frequently to the study area than subordinates, a result that might indicate higher survival.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. H. Piper
    • 1
  • R. H. Wiley
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA