Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why Do Subordinates In Many Animal Species Accept Social Position Without A Fight?

Date:
June 29, 2009
Source:
Society for Experimental Biology
Summary:
In many animal species stable hierarchies are routinely formed in which some individuals seem to slip naturally into their dominant role whereas others resign themselves to play the part of lowly subordinates. Why do subordinates embrace this fate so readily instead of putting up a fight?

Being the neighbourhood bully has its obvious advantages, but it becomes useless if your authority is continuously being challenged. In many animal species, however, stable hierarchies are routinely formed in which some individuals seem to slip naturally into their dominant role whereas others resign themselves to play the part of lowly subordinates. But why do the latter embrace this fate so readily instead of putting up a fight?

Related Articles


A research team from the University of Sydney is trying to find the answer to this question by studying the interactions between male mosquitofish to see if their behavioural strategy can be traced down to their physical skills.

When the speed of escape in response to an attack was measured, the researchers found that subordinate fish were significantly faster than the dominant ones. "This is particularly interesting because we predicted the opposite: that dominant fish were the ones that would prove to be more athletic" explains Dr. Frank Seebacher, who led the research team. "Our data indicate either that there may be a training effect because subordinate fish have to escape quickly and often, or that slower fish become more aggressive because they cannot manoeuvre quickly."

The researchers also analysed whether damage to the tail and fins may affect the social position of a given individual, and found that, indeed, aggressive behaviours tend to decline as fin damage sustained in fights accumulates. In other words: if a male has to fight too often to maintain his dominant status, he will probably end up losing it in the end. These results will be presented by Elektra Sinclair at the Society of Experimental Biology Annual Meeting in Glasgow on Sunday 28th June 2009.

The scientists are currently trying to better characterize the physiological differences between the two groups to find out whether they are hereditary or acquired. They are also planning to address this question by conducting breeding studies designed to distinguish between underlying genetic differences in locomotor performance and plastic changes occurring during the lifetime of the individual as a result of its social status. Ultimately, their aim is to determine if relative position within the stable hierarchy is largely influenced by their inherited genes, or if each generation has to work it out all over again.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Experimental Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society for Experimental Biology. "Why Do Subordinates In Many Animal Species Accept Social Position Without A Fight?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090628085921.htm>.
Society for Experimental Biology. (2009, June 29). Why Do Subordinates In Many Animal Species Accept Social Position Without A Fight?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090628085921.htm
Society for Experimental Biology. "Why Do Subordinates In Many Animal Species Accept Social Position Without A Fight?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090628085921.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Giant Panda Goes Walkabout in Southwest China

Giant Panda Goes Walkabout in Southwest China

AFP (Mar. 6, 2015) — A giant panda goes walkabout alone at night in southwest China. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nesting Bald Eagle Covered in Snow Up to Its Neck

Nesting Bald Eagle Covered in Snow Up to Its Neck

Buzz60 (Mar. 6, 2015) — The Pennsylvania State Game Commission captured amazing shots of a nesting bald eagle who stayed on its nest during a snowstorm, even when the snow piled all the way up to its neck. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Extinct' Bird Isn't Extinct At All, Scientists Find

'Extinct' Bird Isn't Extinct At All, Scientists Find

Buzz60 (Mar. 6, 2015) — Scientists rediscover a bird thought to be extinct, so we may be able to cross it off the "Gone For Good" list. Sean Dowling (@seandowlingtv) has more details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lack of Snow Pushes Alaska Sled Dog Race North

Lack of Snow Pushes Alaska Sled Dog Race North

AP (Mar. 6, 2015) — A shortage of snow has forced Alaska&apos;s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to move 300 miles north to Fairbanks. The ceremonial start through downtown Anchorage will take place this weekend, using snow stockpiled earlier this winter. (March 6) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins