Consensus decisions about the nature and timing of group activities allow animals to maintain group cohesiveness, but also entail costs because individuals often differ with respect to their optimal activity budgets. Two mechanisms whereby animals reach a consensus include ‘consistent leadership’, in which a single dominant individual makes the decision, and ‘variable leadership’ in which several group members contribute to the decision outcome. Sharing of consensus decisions is expected to reduce consensus costs to most group members. Both patterns are thought to emerge from the complexity of social relationships of group members. We investigated the distribution of leadership during group departures in two packs of free-ranging dogs, Canis lupus familiaris, and tested how its distribution between individuals was affected by dominance rank-related affiliative and agonistic relationships. Although leadership was not entirely concentrated on a single group member, both packs had a limited number of habitual leaders. In the largest pack, the pattern of leadership changed from ‘variable’ to nearly ‘consistent’ after its size had shrunk. Habitual leaders were usually old and high-ranking individuals. However, high-ranking dogs that received affiliative submissions in greeting ceremonies were more likely to lead than dominant dogs receiving submissions only in agonistic contexts. During resting times, habitual followers associated more closely with habitual leaders than with other followers. These results suggest that in social species collective movements may arise from the effort of subordinates to maintain close proximity with specific valuable social partners.
Effect of affiliative and agonistic relationships on leadership behaviour in free-ranging dogs / R. Bonanni; S. Cafazzo; P. Valsecchi ; E. Natoli. - In: ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR. - ISSN 0003-3472. - 79(2010), pp. 981-991. [10.1016/j.anbehav.2010.02.021]
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