Captive male dark-eyed juncos from two different aviaries were combined
either in one group's original aviary (seven replicates) or in a third
aviary (two replicates). These experiments controlled for effects of
handling the subjects during transfers between aviaries and, in
statistical analysis of the results, took into account constraints on the
dominance relationships within combined groups.
The results (1) confirmed the influence on dominance of prior residence
in an aviary and (2) revealed a lack of independence in the dominance
relationships between individuals from different original groups. This
lack of independence probably resulted from an influence of dominant
individuals on the relationships of their familiar subordinates, a
The results further indicated that previous experience with dominance or
recognition of previous opponents outweighed the effect of prior
residence. Consequently, prior residence might represent a last resort
in the settlement of contests in this species, as predicted on
theoretical grounds for the use of conventional asymmetries in the
settlement of contests.
The coat-tail effect, if it applies in the field, would create an
advantage for subordinates associating with familiar dominants.