Measuring dominance and understanding the formation of hierarchies

Measuring dominance

There is a long tradition to observe animal behavior. Cave painters liked to illustrate animals. According to the archaeologists the oldest date animal cave painting identified so far, is a pig that has a minimum age of 35,400 years old was found in Indonesia. It is known that the most common subjects in cave paintings are large wild animals.
The History of Animals by Aristotle (384–322 BCE) contains many accurate eye-witness observations. However, the continuous observation of the social behavior of animal groups in their natural environment with the smallest possible intervention proved to be very difficult. Ecologists and ethologists use wireless sensors and Global Positioning System (GPS) to track and monitor the behavior and interaction of freely moving animals.

The emergence of dominance hierarchy

Linear dominance hierarchies proved to be very efficient for resource management in the community of social animals. Since more and more data have been accumulated, it is possible to test hypotheses about the possible mechanisms of the formation have. Within the framework of the Amboseli Baboon Research Project data on the behavior of wild baboon has been obtained and and analyzed. Ten thousands observation of agonistic encounters have been made. The encounters have \dots winners and losers, so basically the individuals participated in a tournament. Guess what is the method animal behavior researcher use to analyze the results of past ”games” and predict the outcome of the future ones? The Elo rating method! The so-called ”winner and loser effects” seems to be convincing. It describes the phenomenon in which winners tend to become more likely to win in subsequent encounters, and losers tend to become more likely to lose.

Self-organizing dominance hierarchies in a wild primate population

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