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Exploring Animal Social Networks

Exploring Animal Social Networks

Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Exploring Animal Social Networks
    Book Description:

    Social network analysis is used widely in the social sciences to study interactions among people, groups, and organizations, yet until now there has been no book that shows behavioral biologists how to apply it to their work on animal populations.Exploring Animal Social Networksprovides a practical guide for researchers, undergraduates, and graduate students in ecology, evolutionary biology, animal behavior, and zoology.

    Existing methods for studying animal social structure focus either on one animal and its interactions or on the average properties of a whole population. This book enables researchers to probe animal social structure at all levels, from the individual to the population. No prior knowledge of network theory is assumed. The authors give a step-by-step introduction to the different procedures and offer ideas for designing studies, collecting data, and interpreting results. They examine some of today's most sophisticated statistical tools for social network analysis and show how they can be used to study social interactions in animals, including cetaceans, ungulates, primates, insects, and fish. Drawing from an array of techniques, the authors explore how network structures influence individual behavior and how this in turn influences, and is influenced by, behavior at the population level. Throughout, the authors use two software packages--UCINET and NETDRAW--to illustrate how these powerful analytical tools can be applied to different animal social organizations.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3776-2
    Subjects: Zoology, Biological Sciences, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. 1 Introduction to Social Networks
    (pp. 1-18)

    Understanding the link between individual behavior and population-level phenomena is a long-standing challenge in ecology and evolutionary biology (Lima and Zollner 1996; Sutherland 1996). Behavior is expressed as a response to intrinsic and extrinsic factors, including an individual’s physical and social environment, the latter made up of nonrandom and heterogeneous social interactions (Krause and Ruxton 2002). That is, individuals are part of a network of inter-individual associations that vary in strength, type, and dynamics. The structure of this social network has far-reaching implications for the ecology and evolution of individuals, populations, and species. For example, the social network supports a...

  5. 2 Data Collection
    (pp. 19-41)

    To get us started in our exploration of animal social networks, we will need some data. In this chapter we will outline some of the different types of data from which such networks can be constructed, and how these data might be collected. A network is a relational data set in that it represents how each animal may be related to each of the others through the type of interaction or association being observed. The key element in a network data set is therefore the set of pair-wise relations between animals, each of which is represented by a network edge....

  6. 3 Visual Exploration
    (pp. 42-63)

    So, now that you’ve enjoyed (or suffered) the collection of your data and used it to compile a social network of some sort, it is time to start thinking about what that network can tell you about your study system. As humans we are exceptionally good at visual pattern detection, and in any data analysis, a sensible first step is to visualize what you have. Just as we may plot a histogram or scatter graph for more conventional data, we can represent the social associations or interactions that we have measured as a form of graph that, as we have...

  7. 4 Node-Based Measures
    (pp. 64-87)

    Now that we have a social network for our system, it is time to begin a more quantitative exploration of its structure, and to think in more detail about what this structure may tell us about the biology of our population. In this chapter and the next we will be tapping into some of the analytical tools and tricks developed by social scientists and others to pluck some order from the often-tangled mess that, at first glance, a social network can present. In this chapter we will consider several simple (to understand, if not to compute via mental arithmetic) but...

  8. 5 Statistical Tests of Node-Based Measures
    (pp. 88-116)

    So we have collected our relational data, drawn our network, and used it to calculate some descriptive statistics. What next? As biologists we should be interested in what the social network can tell us about the sociobiology of our study species, and to this end we need to have some confidence that our observed network patterns stand up to statistical analysis. There is much that can be done in this regard, but also much still to do. The very aspect of networks that makes them so appealing, that they represent all relevant relations in one construct, is the aspect that...

  9. 6 Searching for Substructures
    (pp. 117-140)

    Up to this point the emphasis of our analysis of animal social networks has been to identify some individual-based measure (such as the degreekior cluster coefficientCi, for example) and to see whether the distribution of this measure is biologically revealing. In this chapter we move on to take a more global look at the structure of a network, and to search for evidence within the network as a whole for nonrandom patterns of association between animals or groups of animals. Our aim is to use a social network to identify inhomogeneities in the social structure that may...

  10. 7 Comparing Networks
    (pp. 141-162)

    We are quite close to the end of our exploration of animal social networks, yet so far we have only considered how to analyze the structure of a single network. It is clear that the whole network approach will be much more appealing if we are able to compare networks, and that is the subject of this last substantive methods chapter.

    The comparative approach is a very powerful tool in ecology and evolution (Harvey and Pagel 1991), and comparing observations between contexts, populations, and species can provide insight into the proximate and ultimate causations of behavior (Krebs and Davies 1996)....

  11. 8 Conclusions
    (pp. 163-172)

    Social network theory provides a general framework that allows us to visualize and quantify global and fine-scale social organization. With a bit of imagination there are a number of ways that social networks can be constructed (see chapter 1). This book has largely focused on social networks in which nodes represent individuals, and we have paid particular attention to issues that arise when association data are constructed via the “gambit of the group” (see chapter 2). Visualization of the network is only the starting point for detailed analysis (chapter 3), but its importance should not be underestimated. Looking at the...

  12. Glossary of Frequently Used Terms
    (pp. 173-174)
  13. References
    (pp. 175-186)
  14. Index
    (pp. 187-192)