Temporal Analysis of Dynamic Social Hierarchies

In a recent paper we show how male mice living in a social hierarchy monitor the behavior of the alpha male. We report that all male mice engage in bursts of aggression with animals of higher ranks having shorter inter-burst intervals. Importantly, mice avoid behaving aggressively in the vivarium if the alpha male has been aggressive around a four minute window. Only the alpha male mouse is monitored and avoided in this fashion. Indeed, the more despotic that each individual alpha male mouse is, the more strongly anti-correlated are the aggressive behaviors of other animals with his behavior.

Below are representative plots from six cohorts (we use data from 13 stable cohorts in the paper) that show each aggressive behavior by each animal by rank. For readability the x-axis is the number of each aggressive act rather than time - though each cohort was observed for approximatey 2 hours per day for 3 weeks. More details available in the paper.