Behavioural profile predicts dominance status in mountain chickadees, Poecile gambeli

Rebecca A. Fox, Lara D. Ladage, Timothy C. Roth, Vladimir V. Pravosudov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Individual variation in stable behavioural traits may explain variation in ecologically relevant behaviours such as foraging, dispersal, anti-predator behaviour, and dominance. We investigated behavioural variation in mountain chickadees, a North American parid that lives in dominance-structured winter flocks, using two common measures of behavioural profile: exploration of a novel room and novel object exploration. We related those behavioural traits to dominance status in male chickadees following brief, pairwise encounters. Low-exploring birds (birds that visited less than four locations in the novel room) were significantly more likely to become dominant in brief, pairwise encounters with high-exploring birds (i.e. birds that visited all perching locations within a novel room). On the other hand, there was no relationship between novel object exploration and dominance. Interestingly, novel-room exploration was also not correlated with novel object exploration. These results suggest that behavioural profile may predict the social status of group-living individuals. Moreover, our results contradict the idea that novel object exploration and novel-room exploration are always interchangeable measures of individuals' sensitivity to environmental novelty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1441-1448
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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