Patterns of Aggression Among Captive American Flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber).

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Zoo Biology (Impact Factor: 0.85). 07/2013; 32(4). DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21078
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Many species of flamingo are endangered in the wild but common in zoos, where successful captive breeding programs are a management priority. Unlike their counterparts in the wild, captive flamingo individuals are easy to mark and follow, facilitating longitudinal data collection on social dynamics that may affect reproduction. We studied a captive group of American Flamingos at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, LA to document patterns of aggression between individuals during the onset of breeding. We used a social network approach to test whether overall aggression would be higher during courtship or following establishment of pair bonds. Aggression was higher following pair bond establishment than during courtship, suggesting that individuals in our study population may compete more intensely for resources such as nesting sites than for mates. We also found that males were more aggressive than females during all stages of the study period and that there was a positive relationship between age and aggression in males during the pair-bond stage. We discuss these findings in light of management practices for captive populations of flamingos and general patterns of aggression in social animals. Zoo Biol. XX:XX-XX, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals Inc.

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    ABSTRACT: We test the hypothesis that the relationship between networks resulting from unresolved agonistic interactions (URI) and social dominance was context-dependent in a captive group of American Flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber ruber). URI formed networks that differed substantially from the dominance network and depended on the context in which the interactions occurred. Betweenness centrality in the URI network on the region (“the island”) where nesting took place was strongly correlated with dominance score. This correlation was particularly strong in the case of males, but, in both sexes, the dominant individual in a dyad was likely to have a higher betweenness centrality in the island URI. On the other hand, betweenness centrality in URI networks at the feeder did not show any relationship with dominance, but was associated with observed visits to the feeder. Thus, centrality in both the island URI network and the feeder URI network was associated with access to a resource over which individuals competed. Along with other results suggesting that non-dominance interactions may form social networks distinct from, but related to, dominance networks, our results support the hypothesis that relationships within animal social groups can be modeled as a series of distinct but inter-related networks.
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