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Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 141–145 | Cite as

Agonistic interactions in siskin flocks: Why are dominants sometimes subordinate?

  • J. C. Senar
  • M. Camerino
  • N. B. Metcalfe
Article

Summary

Dominance interactions among captive siskins were examined to see if the behavior of dominants reduced the risk of subordinates leaving the flock. The outcome of aggressive encounters was related to the possession status of the two birds (i.e., which bird was first to arrive at the contested resource) and the type of aggression used (i.e., display or attack). More dominant birds were successful whether they were possessors or intruders, and whether they attacked or displayed. When possessors, they tended to display, presumably because of the greater cost of attack and the lack of substantial benefits associated with it. When intruding, they tended to attack, possibly because attack is slightly more successful than display. When initiating encounters against dominants, subordinates were more successful if they were possessors than if they were intruders. Subordinates tended to use displays whether they were possessors or intruders, even though when the birds were intruding, displays were less successful than attacks. Subordinates may use display when intruding because attack holds a higher risk of retaliation. The fact that siskins can repel more dominant intruders merely by using displays suggests that dominants, by respecting possession and allowing reversals, are able to reduce the likelihood that subordinates will leave the flock. This may be to the dominants' long-term advantage, since they gain benefits from being in stable flocks.

Keywords

High Risk Possession Status Great Cost Agonistic Interaction Substantial Benefit 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. C. Senar
    • 1
  • M. Camerino
    • 1
  • N. B. Metcalfe
    • 2
  1. 1.Museu de ZoologiaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK

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