The quest for power in animals is so much richer, so much more nuanced than who wins what knock-down, drag-out fight. Indeed, power struggles among animals often look more like an opera than a boxing match. Tracing the path to power for over thirty different species on six continents, writer and behavioral ecologist Lee Alan Dugatkin takes us on a journey around the globe, shepherded by leading researchers who have discovered that in everything from hyenas to dolphins, bonobos to field mice, cichlid fish to cuttlefish, copperhead snakes to ravens, and meerkats to mongooses, power revolves around spying, deception, manipulation, forming and breaking up alliances, complex assessments of potential opponents, building social networks, and more. Power pervades every aspect of the social life of animals: what they eat, where they eat, where they live, whom they mate with, how many offspring they produce, whom they join forces with, and whom they work to depose. In some species, power can even change an animal’s sex. Nor are humans invulnerable to this magnificently intricate melodrama: Dugatkin’s tales of the researchers studying power in animals are full of unexpected pitfalls, twists and turns, serendipity, and the pure joy of scientific discovery.
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