Existing evidence indicates that dominance rank can be passed on

Existing evidence indicates that dominance rank can be passed on through social rather than genetic mechanisms [7]. A main argument against the heritability of social dominance emanates from its

interacting character; for social dominance to take place a population needs both dominant and submissive subjects representing the two sides of the same coin (see Figure 1). The phrase LDN193189 ‘inheritance of social dominance’ itself is problematic since genes are inherited but not higher-level properties such as social dominance [8]. In addition, genes that are inherited encode for properties at an individual level while social dominance takes place at a multi-individual level [9]. ‘Indirect genetic effects’ have been proposed as an alternative mechanism to social selection gradients (e.g. as those affected by kin selection) for social interactions to affect individuals’ fitness 10 and 11]. Indirect genetic effects occur when the genotype of one individual has a causal influence on the phenotype

of another (e.g. scent marks that change a competitor’s behavior toward the signaler, thus, not affecting the Regorafenib supplier fitness of conspecifics directly but influencing the expression of other traits [12]). Several examples provide evidence for the evolutionary constraint on the phenotypic mean of the interacting phenotypes. In a wild population of red deer, Cervus elaphus, dominance was shown to be heritable and correlated positively with lifetime fitness, with contest outcome depending as much on the genes carried by the opponent as on the genotype of the focal individual. Therefore, the mean social dominance at the population level was not affected [13]. In a study that analyzed 25 590 dyadic interactions performed by 8159 cows in traditional tournaments found that whereas moderate levels of direct and indirect heritability

were confirmed, they annulated each other and, thus, total heritability was negligible [14••]. Similar results were obtained in a human study that examined whether differences in social status are heritable and persistent by examining haplotype distributions in 1269 men from 41 Indonesian communities. Patrilines were seldom dominant for more than a few generations [15]. Selective breeding for social dominance has proved very effective and rapid, with Selleckchem Erastin the differences between dominant and subordinate rats becoming more pronounced throughout subsequently selected generations (indicative of additive genetic variation. The effectiveness of such artificial selection in laboratory studies has been confirmed in rodents (rats and mice) selected for their competitive abilities in food competition tests 16, 17 and 18] and in several other species. In the cockroach Nauphoeta cinerea, rapid evolution of social dominance was observed and the predictions of the model of interacting phenotypes (see Figure 1) confirmed [11].

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