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Some Observations On the Isolating Potential of Aggressive Behaviour in the Domestic Fowl

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(I) Inter-breed and inter-strain aggressive interactions were studied in the domestic chicken in order to assess the potential of aggressive behaviour as an ethological isolating mechanism at such levels. (2) Brown Leghorn cocks of own-strain previous experience exhibited an own-breed bias in the orientation of their agonistic behaviour in simultaneous and alternate-presentation situations in which stuffed own-breed and White Leghorn cocks were presented. (3) The same cocks showed less own-strain bias when presented with stuffed cocks of their own and another Brown Leghorn strain. (4) Own-breed and strange-breed hens were introduced singly for short periods into two established Brown Leghorn female flocks, and agonistic interactions observed. (5) Some degree of own breed bias in the orientation of flock agonistic response was observed, but generalisation was considerable and sufficient to impart isolating potential to aggressive behaviour in some cases. (6) Temporary immigrants of the same breed as flock-members reacted more aggressively than those of other breeds. (7) Flock-members' social status and reactions to intruders were not significantly correlated. (8) There was a considerable range in the temporary social rank attained by own-breed-immigrants. (9) Results are discussed in relation to previous studies of the fowl and wild avian species, and their possible evolutionary significance is tentatively mentioned.

Affiliations: 1: Ethology Section, A.R.C., Poultry Research Centre, Edinburgh, Scotland


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