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A likely ranking interpolation for resolving dominance orders in systems with unknown relationships

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image of Behaviour

In many animal systems agonistic interactions may be rare or not overt, particularly where such interactions are costly or of high risk as is common for large mammals. We present a technique developed specifically for resolving an optimized dominance order of individuals in systems with transitive (i.e. linear) dominance relationships, but where not all relationships are known. Our method augments the widely used I&SI method (de Vries, 1998) with an interpolation function for resolving the relative ranks of individuals with unknown relationships. Our method offers several advantages over other dominance methods by enabling the incorporation of any proportion of unknown relationships, resolving a unique solution to any dominance matrix, and calculating cardinal dominance strengths for each individual. As such, this method enables novel insight into difficult to study behavioural systems.


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