Dominance hierarchy

In biology, a dominance hierarchy (formerly and colloquially called a pecking order) is a type of social hierarchy that arises when members of animal social groups interact, creating a ranking system. A dominant higher-ranking individual is sometimes called an alpha, and the submissive lower-ranking individual a beta. Different types of interactions can result in dominance depending on the species, including ritualized displays of aggression or direct physical violence.[2] In social living groups, members are likely to compete for access to limited resources and mating opportunities. Rather than fighting each time they meet, relative rank is established between individuals of the same sex, with higher-ranking individuals often gaining more access to resources and mates. Based on repetitive interactions, a social order is created that is subject to change each time a dominant animal is challenged by a subordinate one.

A high-ranking male mandrill advertises his status with bright facial coloration.[1]

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