The animal social hierarchy represents the established order in a particular group of animals depending upon various factors such as the position in the food chain, the numbers in the community, the nature such as carnivorous or herbivorous, access to resources, adaptability to changing circumstances etc. The animals with the highest position in the social hierarchy get access to all the available resources efficiently, perform successful breeding under favorable conditions and remain alive even under critical environmental situations.
Advantages of Animal Social Hierarchy
With the help of the social hierarchy, a respective order can be maintained. The hierarchies limit the amount of violence taking place within a group. A basic dominance hierarchy has an alpha male or a pair of males at the top most position, which are sole breeders within the group. The Beta males come second in line and they cooperates the alphas. The lower classes are referred to as the deltas and gammas.
The hierarchies exist, even when the group of animals migrates to any new location for search of more resources. The social hierarchy is beneficial in the maintenance of territories, regardless of the fact that whether the dominant status is held by an individual or a group of individual. It helps in preventing the intruders to invade the territory and harm the individuals.
About Dominance Hierarchy: A New Concept
A dominance hierarchy can be referred to as an organization of individuals in a group that takes place when the demand for resources results in the creation of aggressive situation. There can be two forms of dominance hierarchies such as linear and despotic. In the linear dominance hierarchy, each individual dominates the individuals who are below him and not above him. On the other hand, in the despotic hierarchical structure; only one individual is dominant in the group and all the other members are equally submissive.
The dominance hierarchies have been observed in mammals, birds, fish and various other creatures. The hierarchies are greatly influenced by the social interactions between the individuals in a particular group.
Details of Mechanisms That Regulate the Formation of Animal Social Hierarchy
A dyadic method is used in analyzing the formation of hierarchy. In this method, two individuals are isolated from the whole group and are then forced to interact with each other. All the individuals are paired like this until a hierarchy is deduced.
After various research, it is found that the paired interactions between the individuals does not alone account for the formation of hierarchies. Various other concepts have been emerged regarding the animal behavior, which plays an important role in the creation of the animal hierarchies.
It is being seen that the interaction between the individuals under isolation is also affected by a lot of different external factors. According to the new model of hierarchy, the individuals holding the top position get greater access to food and mating opportunities. They even get more resources to support the survival of their off springs. The hierarchies are also not fixed and depend upon various changing factors such as gender, age, aggressiveness etc.