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Far-reaching consequences of trait-based social preferences for the structure and function of animal social networks

Josefine Bohr BraskAndreas KoherDarren P. CroftSune Lehmann
Jan 2024
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摘要原文
Social network structures play an important role in the lives of animals by affecting individual fitness, and the spread of disease and information. Nevertheless, we still lack a good understanding of how these structures emerge from the behaviour of individuals. Generative network models based on empirical knowledge about animal social systems provide a powerful approach that can help close this gap. In this study: 1) we develop a general model for the emergence of social structures based on a key generative process of real animal social networks, namely social preferences for traits (such as the age, sex, etc. of social partners); 2) we use this model to investigate how different trait preferences affect social network structure and function. We find that the preferences used in a population can have far-reaching consequences for the population, via effects on the transmission of disease and information and the robustness of the social network against fragmentation when individuals disappear. The study thus shows that social preferences can have consequences that go far beyond direct benefits individuals gain from social partner selection. It also shows that these consequences depend both on the preference types, and on the types of traits they are used with. We discuss the implications of the results for social evolution.
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