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Basic pattern of social organization within a flock of poultry in which each bird pecks another lower in the scale without fear of retaliation and submits to pecking by one of higher rank. For groups of mammals (e.g., baboon, wolf) or other birds, the term dominance hierarchy is usually used, and the ranking often involves feeding or mating.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on pecking order, visit Britannica.com.