ANIMAL BEHAVIOR

Up and down the raven social ladder

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Science  28 Nov 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6213, pp. 1075
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6213.1075-a

Common ravens (Corvus corax) engaged in a mating behavior.

PHOTO: © IMAGEBROKER/ALAMY

Social hierarchies are complex, and threats abound for people and, as it turns out, for ravens, too. Massen et al. followed a group of approximately 200 individually marked ravens in the Austrian Alps. They found that strongly bonded breeding pairs at the top of the raven social hierarchy disrupted interactions between loosely bonded pairs lower in the hierarchy. They also tended to ignore nonbonded individuals located at the bottom of the hierarchy. In doing so, the higher-ranking birds may prevent the lower-status breeding pairs from rising up the hierarchy and becoming a social threat.

Curr. Biol. 24, 2733 (2014).

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