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Individual aggression, but not winner–loser effects, predicts social rank in male domestic fowl
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6435-011X
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8621-6977
2017 (English)In: Behavioral Ecology, ISSN 1045-2249, E-ISSN 1465-7279, Vol. 28, no 3, 874-882 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Many factors can affect the probability for an individual to obtain a high social rank, including size, weaponry, and behavioral attributes such as aggression. Recent experiences of winning or losing can also affect the chances of winning future contests, commonly referred to as “winner–loser effects”. Individuals often differ in behavior in a consistent way, including in aggression, thereby showing differences in personality. However, the relative importance of recent experience and aspects of personality in determining rank, as well as the extent to which winning or losing affects aggression, has rarely been studied. Here, we investigate these questions using male domestic fowl. We matched males for body size, comb size, and aggression in pair-wise duels to: 1) study the effect of contest outcome on aggression and 2) compare the effect of individual aggression and contest experience on future social status in small groups. We found that aggression was a highly repeatable personality trait and that aggression increased after winning and decreased after losing. Nevertheless, such winner–loser effects were not enough to increase the odds of becoming dominant in a small group. Instead, aggressiveness measured prior to a contest experience best predicted future rank. Boldness and exploration did not predict rank and of the 2, only boldness was positively correlated with aggressiveness. We conclude that for male domestic fowl in contests among phenotypically matched contestants, aggressiveness is more important for obtaining high rank than winner–loser effects, or other aspects of personality.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 28, no 3, 874-882 p.
Keyword [en]
behavioral syndrome, Gallus gallus domesticus, personality, resource holding potential, social dominance status, social hierarchies
National Category
Behavioral Sciences Biology
Research subject
Ethology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-142347DOI: 10.1093/beheco/arx053ISI: 000401942800037OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-142347DiVA: diva2:1092249
Funder
Linköpings universitet, Future research leadersLars Hierta Memorial Foundation, FO2012-0690
Available from: 2017-05-02 Created: 2017-05-02 Last updated: 2017-06-26Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The relationship between personality and social dominance in the domestic fowl – a critical perspective
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The relationship between personality and social dominance in the domestic fowl – a critical perspective
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Social dominance relationships are formed within numerous animal species and reduce costly fights over resources. Dominant individuals often enjoy greater access to important resources such as food and mating partners, and are generally more aggressive, bold, active and explorative compared to subdominant individuals. These behavioural traits can differ among individuals, but they can also be consistent within the individual, thereby describing the individual’s personality type. However, the causal direction of the observed correlation between dominance and personality is not well studied. One possibility is that some personality types have higher chances of obtaining a dominant social position. This would suggest that personality has consequences for fitness. Another possible explanation is that possessing different social positions gives rise to consistent behavioural differences among individuals on various timescales. If social status has a lasting effect on behaviour, social status would constitute a ‘stable state’ that explains some of the diversity of personality types that has been observed in a multitude of animal species. Dominance and personality may also share underlying proximate factors. In this thesis, I investigate the relationship between social dominance and personality using male domestic fowl, Gallus gallus domesticus. The species is group-living with pronounced dominance hierarchies, and dominance increases male access to mating partners. I show that some aspects of personality, exploration, vigilance and in particular aggressiveness, increased a male’s chances of obtaining dominance (paper III, IV, V), and that aggressiveness can be even more important than body weight and ornament size (comb size, paper V) or recent experience of winning or losing (paper IV). Winning a social interaction resulted in an increase in aggressiveness, while a decrease was seen in males that experienced a loss (paper IV). By observing behaviour before and after changes in male dominance relationships, I further show that a recent (2 days earlier) change in social status induced behavioural adjustments to the new social status in activity, exploration and vigilance (paper I). By extending the time of the new social relationship to 3 weeks, I show that such behavioural changes did not continue (paper II). Finally, I show that the social environment during juvenile development had little impact on adult male competitiveness (paper V). Social interactions appear to have several short-term effects on behaviour, but did not contribute significantly to variation and long-term consistency of personality in male fowl. Instead, a male's personality, and in particular his aggressiveness, affected the outcome of dominance interactions. Overall, my studies reveal important consequences of individual differences in behaviour, and contribute to the highly sought-after empirical testing of hypotheses explaining variation in animal personality.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2017. 63 p.
Keyword
aggression, behavioural syndromes, chicken, Gallus gallus domesticus, intra-sexual selection, resource holding potential, social hierarchy, social rank
National Category
Behavioral Sciences Biology
Research subject
Ethology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-142348 (URN)978-91-7649-838-5 (ISBN)978-91-7649-839-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-06-16, sal E306, Arrheniuslaboratorierna, Svante Arrhenius väg 20 C, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 5: Manuscript.

Available from: 2017-05-22 Created: 2017-05-02 Last updated: 2017-05-18Bibliographically approved

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