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The determinants of dominance relationships among subordinate females in the cooperatively breeding meerkat


Thavarajah, Nathan; Fenkes, Miriam; Clutton-Brock, Timothy (2014). The determinants of dominance relationships among subordinate females in the cooperatively breeding meerkat. Behaviour, 151(1):89-102.

Abstract

In cooperatively breeding species with high reproductive skew, a single breeding female is dominant to all other group members, but it is not yet known if there are consistent dominance relationships among subordinates. In this study on meerkats (Suricata suricatta), we used naturally observed dominance assertions and submissive interactions within dyads of subordinate females to investigate: (i) whether or not a dominance structure exists among them and what factors influence dominance relationships; and (ii) how dominance may influence the future reproductive success of subordinate females. Our study indicates that superiority in age and weight provide a competitive advantage during conflicts among subordinate females and that females who consistently dominate in these contests are subsequently more likely to attain a dominant breeding position. This provides a starting point for further investigations into dominance structure among subordinates in meerkat societies and other cooperative breeders.

Abstract

In cooperatively breeding species with high reproductive skew, a single breeding female is dominant to all other group members, but it is not yet known if there are consistent dominance relationships among subordinates. In this study on meerkats (Suricata suricatta), we used naturally observed dominance assertions and submissive interactions within dyads of subordinate females to investigate: (i) whether or not a dominance structure exists among them and what factors influence dominance relationships; and (ii) how dominance may influence the future reproductive success of subordinate females. Our study indicates that superiority in age and weight provide a competitive advantage during conflicts among subordinate females and that females who consistently dominate in these contests are subsequently more likely to attain a dominant breeding position. This provides a starting point for further investigations into dominance structure among subordinates in meerkat societies and other cooperative breeders.

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7 citations in Web of Science®
5 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:individual attributes, social hierarchy, dyadic dominance relationships
Language:English
Date:January 2014
Deposited On:18 Feb 2015 12:16
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 10:48
Publisher:Brill Academic Publishers
ISSN:0005-7959
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1163/1568539X-00003124

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