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Manipulating badges of status only fools strangers

Abstract : Conflict is risky, but mechanisms that allow animals to assess dominance status without aggression can reduce such costs. Two different mechanisms of competitor assessment are expected to evolve in different contexts: badges of status are expected in larger, anonymous groups, whereas individual recognition is feasible in small, stable groups. However, both mechanisms may be important when social interactions occur both within and across stable social groups. We manipulated plumage in golden‐crowned sparrows (Zonotrichia atricapilla) and found that two known badges of status – gold and black head plumage patch sizes – independently affect dominance among strangers but manipulations had no effect on dominance among familiar flockmates. Moreover, familiar flockmates showed less aggression and increased foraging relative to strangers. Our study provides clear experimental evidence that social recognition affects badge function, and suggests that variation in social contexts maintains coexistence and context‐dependent use of these two dominance resolution mechanisms.
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Contributor : Alexis Chaine <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, November 5, 2019 - 12:00:49 PM
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Alexis Chaine, Daizaburo Shizuka, Theadora Block, Lynn Zhang, Bruce Lyon. Manipulating badges of status only fools strangers. Ecology Letters, Wiley, 2018, 21 (10), pp.1477-1485. ⟨10.1111/ele.13128⟩. ⟨hal-02347907⟩



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