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American BisonA Natural History$
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Dale Lott, Jan van Wagtendonk, and Kevin Shaffer

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780520233386

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520233386.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 25 May 2022

Cow to Cow

Cow to Cow

(p.23) Chapter 2 Cow to Cow
American Bison

Dale F. Lott

University of California Press

This chapter describes the simpler, more durable, but equally important relationships cows develop with one another. The forebears of bison cows must have experienced both plenty and scarcity in their evolutionary history — times when dominance was worth fighting for and times when it wasn't. Changing circumstances select for changeable behavior, with different strategies for different times and places. The bison pay the costs of striving for dominance when the benefits are high, and don't when the benefits are low. Being a dominant member of a group has high potential payoff. In Yellowstone Park, subordinates searched more and harvested less than dominants. A dominant will eat everything it clears and some that it doesn't clear. A subordinate will eat only part of what it clears.

Keywords:   cow relationships, bison cows, dominance, evolutionary history, subordinates

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