Variation in social rank acquisition influences lifetime reproductive success in black-capped chickadees

Kristin A. Schubert*, Daniel J. Mennill, Scott M. Ramsay, Ken A. Otter, Peter T. Boag, Laurene M. Ratcliffe

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    38 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Dominance relationships structure many animal societies, yet the process of rank attainment is poorly understood. We investigated acquisition of social dominance in winter flocks and its fitness consequences in male black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) over a 10-year period. Age was the best predictor of rank, and paired comparisons showed high-ranked males to be older than their low-ranked flock-mates. When controlling for age, morphological variables did not predict male social rank, but high-ranked males were heavier, had lower fat scores and were in leaner condition than low-ranked males. Males that survived between years tended to increase in rank over time; however, the rate of rank advancement varied individually. Rank reversals between familiar contestants were rare, and changes in male social rank were associated with changes in flock membership. Average lifetime reproductive success (LRS) of males and females was variable and best predicted by lifespan. Male rank history also influenced realized reproductive success. Birds with higher average rank over their lifespan were more likely to reproduce successfully. However, among successful birds, average rank did not significantly predict LRS. Thus, birds that lived longer and attained high social rank earlier had higher fitness, but this effect was not manifested as fine-scale differences among successful individuals. Taken together, these findings demonstrate the importance of social factors influencing individual fitness. (c) 2007 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)85-95
    Number of pages11
    JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
    Volume90
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan-2007

    Keywords

    • dominance
    • flock fidelity
    • individual history
    • WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS
    • TITS PARUS-MONTANUS
    • RESTING METABOLIC-RATE
    • DARK-EYED JUNCOS
    • TERRITORY ACQUISITION
    • FATTENING STRATEGIES
    • DELAYED DISPERSAL
    • DOMINANCE STATUS
    • WINTER SURVIVAL
    • PRIOR RESIDENCE

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