Biological Sciences, School of


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Master's thesis presented in fulfillment of the degree M.S. in Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, April 2009. Alan Bond, advisor. Used by permission.

Lynnsey Lee Morrison, now known as: Lynnsey M. Dohmen.


For animals living within socially complex groups, it is beneficial for all individuals to maintain group cohesion. Conflicts often arise in groups, which could potentially have high costs both to the subordinate and dominant members, and could lead to group instability. It has been shown numerous times that highly social group members participate in affiliative relationships with other group members discriminately. They also perform related behavior patterns such as reconciliation at a high rate, which could strengthen group stability. Reconciliation occurs when an affiliative interaction takes place between two individuals following an agonistic encounter. The rate of affiliation is higher after the conflict than had no conflict occurred. In several species, reconciliation appears to be shown more often between individuals with “mutually valuable relationships.” I tested the occurrence of reconciliation in a group of six individual monk parakeets. Monk parakeets likely live in complex societies and thus are good candidates for tests of reconciliation. First I developed an ethogram and quantified social behaviors. Multidimensional scaling of a hypergeometric similarity matrix allowed me to functionally define behaviors as affiliative or agonistic. A weighted score was assigned to each behavior based on these analyses. Each dyadic interaction between pairs of birds was then analyzed to see if they were significantly affiliative or agonistic. Among the 15 dyads, I found that six dyads showed behavior patterns that were primarily affiliative and four showed patterns that were primarily agonistic. In the reconciliation experiment, seven out of 13 dyads reconciled (54%), including five of the six dyads that were primarily affiliative. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that reconciliation occurs mainly in “mutually valuable relationships.” This is the first study to demonstrate reconciliation in an avian species.

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