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Linear or despotic dominance hierarchies are common in carnivore societies. However, in feeding experiments in the field with wild European badgers, Meles meles, we found no compelling evidence for any such hierarchies within badger groups, or even between the members of neighbouring groups. The outcome of dyadic encounters within groups was partly determined by asymmetries in weight and length, but these predictors were readily confounded by ownership. Aggression between members of neighbouring groups during encounters at feeding sites at territorial borders was extremely rare. These rather ad hoc aspects of social organization reinforce the view that badger societies are somewhat loosely structured.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





613 - 628