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Abstract

Between the siblings of a family of greylag geese (Anser anser L.) a rank order is established by fighting during the first days after hatching, and also by other, more complex interactions. The position of each goose in the rank order can be defined by three groups of behaviour patterns (aggressive behaviour, “greetings”, escape responses). A clear-cut ranking relation between two individuals is a prerequisite for their close cohesion. The survival function of rank order lies in diminishing the intensity and frequency of agonistic interactions, in diminishing social stress situations and in guaranteeing the close family cohesion.