Social responses to the natural loss of individuals in Barbary macaques

Fedurek, Piotr, McFarland, Richard, Majolo, Bonaventura and Lehmann, Julia (2022) Social responses to the natural loss of individuals in Barbary macaques. Mammal Biology . ISSN 1616-5047

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Social responses to the natural loss of individuals in Barbary macaques
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In recent years, there has been considerable interest in investigating how animal social structure is affected by the loss of
individuals. This is often achieved using simulations that generate predictions regarding how the removal of ‘key’ individuals
from a group affects network structure. However, little is known about the effects of such removals in wild and free-ranging
populations, particularly the extent to which naturally occurring mortality events and the loss of a large proportion of individuals
from a social group affects the overall structure of a social network. Here, we used data from a population of wild
Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus) that was exposed to an exceptionally harsh winter, culminating in the death of 64% of
the adults from two groups. We analysed how social interaction patterns among surviving individuals were affected by the
natural loss of group members using social networks based on affiliative (i.e., grooming) and aggressive social interactions.
We show that only the structure of the pre-decline grooming networks was conserved in the post-decline networks, suggesting
that grooming, but not aggression networks are resilient against the loss of group members. Surviving group members
were not significantly different from the non-survivors in terms of their affiliative and agonistic relationships, and did not
form assorted communities in the pre-decline networks. Overall, our results suggest that in primates, patterns of affiliative
interactions are more resilient to changes in group composition than aggressive interaction patterns, which tend to be used
more flexibly in new conditions.

Keywords:Barbary macaque, Primates, Social relationship, Social Networks
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C880 Social Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:50910
Deposited On:13 Sep 2022 09:55

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