Dominance, prior occupancy and Winter residency in the great tit (Parus major)

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Abstract

This study reports an aviary experiment aimed at determining what affects social dominance in the great tit (Parus major), especially why older birds (adults) in nature normally dominate younger ones (juveniles). When birds were matched with respect to age, prior residency determined dominance. Without a difference in prior residency older birds dominated younger ones. However, when juvenile birds had a prior residency advantage over adult birds, they often became dominant. This was especially so when the juvenile bird was large relative to the adult bird. When a resident juvenile male was also consorted by a female, the became dominant over an adult male on most occasions. An experiment where the dominant bird was removed and later returned to the aviary failed to produce more than one shift in dominance. However, the proportion of reversals in dominance interactions increased with separation time. It is argued that the fact that dominance depends on prior residency selects for winter residency in the great tit.

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Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology
  • Zoology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-152
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Volume29
Publication statusPublished - 1990
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes