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dominantdominant (fr.); dominant (ger.)

  • 1) Of a hereditary character: appearing to the exclusion of another character in a heterozygous organism containing alleles for them both. Hence of an allele or gene: expressed to the exclusion of another allelic gene. (OED 2011)
    heredity dominance recessive

    Quindi la loro combinazione, non essendo naturale, riesce incostante nei suoi effetti, e questi portano, ora l’impronta di un principio, ora di un altro, in proporzione che ve ne è uno dominante.

    Gallesio, G. (1816). Teoria della riproduzione vegetale: 79.

    la forme du melon dominait
    Sageret, M. (1826). Considérations sur la production des hybrides, des variants et des variétés en général, et sur celles de la famille des Cucurbitacées en particulier. Ann. Sci. Nat. Paris (1) 8, 294-314: 307.

    In der weiteren Besprechung werden jene Merkmale, welche ganz oder fast unverändert in die Hybride-Verbindung übergehen, somit selbst die Hybriden-Merkmale repräsentiren, als dominirende, und jene, welche in der Verbindung latent werden, als recessive bezeichnet.

    Mendel, G. (1866). Versuche über Pflanzenhybriden. Verh. Naturf. Vereins Brünn 4, 3-47: 11.


    In the case of each pair of characters there is thus one which in the first cross prevails to the exclusion of the other. This prevailing character Mendel calls the dominant character, the other being the recessive character.

    Bateson, W. (1900). Problems of heredity as a subject for horticultural investigation. Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society 25, 54-61: 58.

    dominante Allele
    Johannsen, W. (1909/26). Elemente der exakten Erblichkeitslehre: 646.
  • 2) Designating or pertaining to the predominant species in a plant community (also: The chief constituent of a plant community). (OED 2011)
    community dominance

    [vorherrschende Arten […] vorherrschende Familien einer Flora

    Grisebach, A. (1838). Über den Einfluss des Climas auf die Begränzung der natürlichen Floren. Linnaea 12, 159-200: 160-1.]

    the breaking and turning of the soil at once exterminates a large number of the previously dominant species
    Allen, J.A. (1870). The flora of the prairies. Amer. Nat. 4, 577-585: 585; cf. Carleton, M.A. (1891-92). Variations in dominant species of plants. Transactions of the Annual Meetings of the Kansas Academy of Science 13, 24-28.

    In the Delta of the Ganges, the Indian sandal-wood and false mangosteen form the dominant species

    Stoddard, E. (1873). Nature’s Forest. The Aldine 6, 161-163: 162.


    A classification may be made into dominant species, which are capable of forming extensive forests, co-ordinates, which may be occasionally grown in extensive plantations for their economic value, though properly not desirable for dominant forest growth, and subordinates which are useful to fill up the forest stand.

    Fernow, B.E. (1886). The biology of timber trees with special reference to the requirements of forestry. Botanical Gazette 11, 247-248: 247-8.


    Twenty miles back from the coast, [Culex] sollicitans is the dominant species and occurs most of the summer.

    Smith, J.B. (1902). Concerning certain mosquitoes. Science 15, 13-15: 14.
    in general ecology each species takes its appropriate place – dominant, important, subordinate, or insignificant – according to its dynamic value as a part of the whole
    Forbes, S.A. (1907). An ornithological cross-section of Illinois in autumn. Bull. Ill. St. Lab. Nat. Hist. 7, 305-335: 305.

    Correlated environmental and biotic dominance [...] dominance of certain species or associations

    Adams, C.C. (1908). The ecological succession of birds. Auk 25, 109-153: 125-128.
    The relative abundance and dominance of these classes of birds will be determined largely by the dominance of such physical conditions as most distinctly favor a particular ecological group
    Adams, C.C. (1908). The ecological succession of birds. Auk 25, 109-153: 122.

    Every community [of plants] consists of dominant and sub-dominant species, as well as of others that are more or less dependent upon these and occur only here and there.

    Warming, E. (1909). Oecology of Plants: 139 (not in German translation of 1896).

  • 3) Occupying a commanding position. (OED 2017)
    social behaviour dominance

    there is a kind of servitude that is without any redeeming merits whatever, and is indeed cruel and heartless. This is illustrated by certain birds, as the frigate bird, which obliges the fish hawk to fish for him, and the sea gull, which exacts such service from the cormorant. Not only do they rob the unfortunates of the fruits of their industry, but purposely compel them to catch more for their tormentors. This is a compulsory servitude, a rank robbery of work, without the return of food, or protection, or any other compensation. This slavery has now gone on so long that the dominant species cannot live without it, and in the case of the frigate bird the feet and claws are now so reduced by disuse that it cannot catch its own fish if it desired to do so.

    Thompson, A.H. (1887-88). Animal ethics. Transactions of the Annual Meetings of the Kansas Academy of Science 11, 52-56: 55.


    dominant trees, with their head well above the others

    Brandis, D. (1891). A manual of forestry. Nature 44, 265-268: 267.


    the defining of dominance in a clear fahion is bound to be a difficult task. As a consequence we have found it necessary to define it on several different levels. Probably the most cautious way of defining it is behaviorally, on the basis of what we can see when we look at the animals. For instance, we have defined the dominant animal as one whose behavior proceeded without deference to the similar behavior patterns of the subordinate animal. The subordinate animal accordingly was defined as the animal whose behavior patterns were determined, suggested, modified or completely inhibited by the similar behavior patterns of the dominant animal. Another possibility is to define the dominant animal in terms of his own specific behaviour, attitudes, gestures, bearing, mien, etc. This has the advantage of being specific and easily verifiable. Dominance can also be defined terms of the social behavior syndrome characteristic of typical dominant animals. We can say that the dominant animal is one who behaves in such and such a way with respect to food, sex and aggression, always with quantitative reference. The specific correlations between various parts of the behavior syndrome would be important here. This definition is also in a sense a behavioral definition that is verifiable, although with a good deal of effort. Finally, we can defince dominance in a more theoretical way. We can say that the dominance drive is the fundamental source of energy at the basis of the close correlations within the dominance behavior syndromes. Where we find such an extensive system of high inter-correlations with no causal relationships to each other, we are justified in postulating some common source from which all these behaviors flow, and which explains their high inter-correlations simply on the basis of this common participation in this common source.

    Maslow, A.H. (1935). Individual psychology and social behavior of monkeys and apes. International Journal of Individual Psychology 1, 47-59: 58-9.