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Title: Socio-ecological drivers of primate social network dynamics and implications for individual fitness
Author: Murphy, Derek
ISNI:       0000 0004 5914 5095
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2015
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Social animals, such as primates, incur many fitness-related costs as a direct result of living in groups of conspecifics. However, group-living also comes with benefits. Sociality is thought to have evolved in response to the need for individuals to negotiate their social environment in order to maximise the benefits and minimise the costs associated with group-living. Recently, researchers interested in animal sociality have turned to a set of sophisticated statistical tools, collectively termed 'social network analysis' in order to better understand the structure of animal social systems and the role of individuals within their social groups. Using a social network analytic approach, I explore the relationship between the ecological and social environments, and the implications of an uncertain social landscape for individual fitness and fitness-relevant processes in two species of Old-World monkeys: chacma baboons (Papio hamadryas ursinus) and vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops pygerythrus). My results suggest that individuals respond to fluctuating local conditions in diverse ways depending on behavioural context and their current reproductive state, and that the social environment experienced by an individual, and their active pattern of social engagement has important implications for infant survival. Finally, I investigate how network structure influences two fitness-relevant processes of flow in a population of vervet monkeys: information transfer and disease transmission. I conclude that the complex social life of animal groups emerges from many individuals trying to achieve the same fitness goals. Successful individuals exploit the complexity in their social environment and respond adaptively to an uncertain and inconstant set of local conditions by actively adopting social strategies that serve to enhance their fitness.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Social networks ; Primates ; Communicable diseases in animals