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Dominance, prior occupancy and Winter residency in the great tit (Parus major)

  • Maria Sandell
  • Henrik G. Smith
Publishing year: 1990
Language: English
Pages: 147-152
Publication/Series: Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Volume: 29
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Springer

Abstract english

This study reports an aviary experiment aimed at determining what affects social dominance in the great tit (Parus major), especially why older birds (adults) in nature normally dominate younger ones (juveniles). When birds were matched with respect to age, prior residency determined dominance. Without a difference in prior residency older birds dominated younger ones. However, when juvenile birds had a prior residency advantage over adult birds, they often became dominant. This was especially so when the juvenile bird was large relative to the adult bird. When a resident juvenile male was also consorted by a female, the became dominant over an adult male on most occasions. An experiment where the dominant bird was removed and later returned to the aviary failed to produce more than one shift in dominance. However, the proportion of reversals in dominance interactions increased with separation time. It is argued that the fact that dominance depends on prior residency selects for winter residency in the great tit.


  • Ecology
  • Zoology


  • ISSN: 1432-0762
Henrik Smith
E-mail: henrik [dot] smith [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se



+46 46 222 93 79

+46 70 978 20 56




Centre for Environmental and Climate Research (CEC)

+46 46 222 93 79

+46 70 978 20 56


Sölvegatan 37, Lund


Centre for Animal Movement Research
Evolutionary Ecology, Department of Biology
Ecology building S-223 62 Lund Sweden