Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Scott MacDougall-Shackleton

Second Advisor

Dr. David Sherry

Third Advisor

Dr. Bryan Neff


Behavioural syndromes are consistent individual behavioural tendencies across varying situations. Although behavioural syndromes studies are becoming more common, few draw connections to social dominance. Black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) flock in winter, and dominance hierarchies are critical to their survival. To determine the relationship between social rank, neophobia and observational learning in chickadees, we measured individual reactions to novelty and individual differences in foraging-task learning ability. Latencies to approach different novel stimuli were correlated within individuals. Social rank was related to individual reactions to novelty but not to foraging- task learning ability. Lower ranking individuals were less neophobic, consistent with their dominance hierarchy characteristics in which the dominants control preferential access to resources and limit the subordinates to forage in riskier environments. Further work is required to determine the causal relationship between neophobia and social rank.



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