Dominance hierarchies in vertebrates emerge as individuals in social groups attempt to find their place relative to others in the group. Pecking orders are established in groups where each individual is ascribed a rank relative to the others. Challenges between individuals that result in the determination of their relative positions help to prevent a confrontation each time they meet.
On the ends of the spectrum of social hierarchy there is egalitarianism on one end, where all individual members are of the same rank, and despotism on the other end, where one individual is dominant over all the others who are submissive.
Pecking order is between these extremes. The ability of individuals to recognise each other as members of the same group, as well as their ability to learn within this social structure, enables the establishment of dominance hierarchies.
The positions of individuals in the hierarchy is established through the outcome of confrontations. There are a few aspects of a confrontational situation that have a role to pay in determining the outcome: resource-holding potential, resource value and…