Phys.Org: UC biologist discusses 100 years of dominance hierarchies

UC assistant professor Elizabeth Hobson co-edited a journal issue dedicated to pecking orders

Phys.Org highlighted a special journal issue dedicated to 100 years of research in dominance hierarchies co-edited by a University of Cincinnati biologist.

Elizabeth Hobson poses for a photo on campus.

UC assistant professor Elizabeth Hobson co-edited a special issue of the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B dedicated to dominance hierarchies. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

UC College of Arts and Sciences assistant professor Elizabeth Hobson contributed to three articles in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, including an analysis of the past 50 years of research in dominance hierarchies or pecking orders.

Hobson has studied how monk parakeets quarrel with competitors closest in status to cement their positions rather than wasting effort fighting the lowest-ranking members of the colony.

"In the parakeets I work with, we don't find a strong correlation between size and dominance. Instead, individuals may need to recognize their rivals and remember past fights and outcomes to come up with a mental model of rank," she said. "That's a very different cognitive task than choosing to fight an opponent simply because it is slightly smaller than you."

Hobson's students will begin a new study in her lab this year looking at dominance hierarchies and other behavior in northern bobwhite quail.

Read the Phys.Org story.

Featured image at top: University of Cincinnati biologist Elizabeth Hobson and her students study the behavior of gregarious monk parakeets. Photo/Michael Miller