Dominance hierarchies usually form quickly among avian foraging groups because they are beneficial to most individuals by reducing conflict. Several characteristics that correlate with dominance rank have been identified in birds, but most of these conclusions rely on studies of temperate species. Hence, we studied whether captive group members of a subtropical species, grey-cheeked fulvetta Alcippe morrisonia, form social dominance hierarchies when competing for food during the non-breeding season. We also investigated whether sex, age, body condition and fat score were related to an individual's dominance rank which was established by counting aggressive interactions in six captive groups of nine individuals each. In all groups, linear dominance hierarchies were formed whereby yearlings dominated over adult birds, and individuals with a better body condition were also more dominant, while sex and fat score had no discernable effect. Male yearlings had significantly higher body masses and body condition indices than male adults, while female yearlings had significantly higher body masses, body condition indices and fat scores than female adults. However, there were no significant differences between male and female yearlings or adults for any of these variables. We suggest possible reasons for the dominance of yearlings, such as captive conditions or the higher body weight of yearlings.
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