Behavioral Ecology (2016), 00(00), 1–10. doi:10.1093/beheco/arw153
Dominance hierarchies are expected to form in response to socioecological pressures and competitive regimes. We assess dominance relationships among free-ranging female Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) and compare them with those of African savannah elephants (Loxodonta africana), which are known to exhibit age-based dominance hierarchies. Both species are generalist herbivores, however, the Asian population occupies a more productive and climatically stable environment relative to that of the African savannah population. We expected this would lower competition relative to the African taxon, relaxing the need for hierarchy. We tested whether 1) observed dominance interactions among individuals were transitive, 2) outcomes were structured either by age or by social unit according to 4 independent ranking methods, and 3) hierarchy steepness among classes was significant using David’s score.