Meaning of dominance hierarchy

dom'inance hi"erarchy

Pronunciation: [key]
— Animal Behav. Animal Behav.
  1. a system or set of relationships in animal groups that is based on a hierarchical ranking, usually established and maintained by behavior in aggressive encounters: one or a few members hold the highest rank and the others are submissive to those ranking higher and dominant to those ranking lower.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.