Sex-associated and context-dependent leadership in the rock hyrax

Yael Goll, Camille Bordes, Yishai A. Weissman, Inbar Shnitzer, Rosanne Beukeboom, Amiyaal Ilany, Lee Koren, Eli Geffen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In many mammalian species, both sexes may take leadership role, but different traits may play a role in determining variation within species. Here we examine the effect of sex on leadership. We present three complementary datasets derived from a well-studied population of wild rock hyrax (Procavia capensis). The findings demonstrated that male and female rock hyraxes take on different leadership positions, depending on the context. When risk is moderate, more likely to lead are younger resident males, which experience high cortisol and lower testosterone levels. However, during acute predation scenarios, more likely to lead are males with lower centrality status. We suggest that hyrax males exhibit risky behaviors that may reflect their need for self-advertisement. In contrast, leadership among group females is more equally distributed. Females have little to gain from risky actions due to the lack of competition among them, but nonetheless take leadership positions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104063
Issue number4
StatePublished - 15 Apr 2022


FundersFunder number
Ein Gedi Nature Reserve
Israel Nature and Parks Authority
Israel Science Foundation550/14, 767/16, 461/09, 488/05, 577/99


    • Biological sciences
    • Ethology
    • Social interaction


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