The importance of hatching date for dominance in young shags

Velando, A., 2000. The importance of hatching date for dominance in young shags. Animal Behaviour, 60(2), pp.181-185.


In birds, conditions and experience in the nest may influence the social rank of juveniles after they become independent. Three main factors may be involved: (1) mass at fledging, larger birds being better able to compete; (2) brood hierarchy, dominance in the brood continuing after the birds leave the nest; and (3) hatching date, birds hatching earlier having more experience and a greater ability to compete. I studied the effect of these factors on the agonistic behaviour of juvenile European shags, Phalacrocorax aristotelis, in crèches. Of all the factors, only hatching date had a significant influence on the dominance rank of juveniles. Birds that hatched earlier had a higher rank. Additionally, males were somewhat more aggressive than females. The importance of an individual’s hatching date for its social rank may have consequences for its future reproductive value.