Nicolas Claidière
Laboratoire de psychologie cognitive
Aix-Marseille University, CNRS
13331 Marseille, France

Social networks from automated cognitive testing

Claidière, N., Gullstrand, J., Latouche, A., & Fagot, J. (2015). Using Automated Learning Devices for Monkeys (ALDM) to study social networks. Behavior research methods, 1-11. doi: 10.3758/s13428-015-0686-9

Abstract: Social network analysis has become a prominent tool to study animal social life, and there is an increasing need to develop new systems to collect social information automatically, systematically, and reliably. Here we explore the use of a freely accessible Automated Learning Device for Monkeys (ALDM) to collect such social information on a group of 22
captive baboons (Papio papio). We compared the social network obtained from the co-presence of the baboons in ten ALDM testing booths to the social network obtained through standard behavioral observation techniques. The results show that the co-presence network accurately reflects the social organization of the group, and also indicate under which conditions the co-presence network is most informative. In particular, the best correlation between the two networks was obtained with a minimum of 40 days of computer records and for individuals with at least 500 records per day. We also show through random permutation tests that the observed correlations go beyond what would be observed by simple synchronous activity, to reflect a preferential choice of closely located
testing booths. The use of automatized cognitive testing therefore presents a new way of obtaining a large and regular amount of social information that is necessary to develop social network analysis. It also opens the possibility of studying dynamic changes in network structure with time and in relation to the cognitive performance of individuals.

Social networks in primates: smart and tolerant species have more efficient networks

Network of different speciesPasquaretta, C., Leve, M., Claidiere, N., van de Waal, E., Whiten, A., MacIntosh, A. J. J., . . . Sueur, C. (2014). Social networks in primates: smart and tolerant species have more efficient networks. Sci. Rep., 4. doi: 10.1038/srep07600

Figure: Networks of four different species depict variations between groups and network efficiencies

Abstract: Network optimality has been described in genes, proteins and human communicative networks. In the latter, optimality leads to the efficient transmission of information with a minimum number of connections. Whilst studies show that differences in centrality exist in animal networks with central individuals having higher fitness, network efficiency has never been studied in animal groups. Here we studied 78 groups of primates (24 species). We found that group size and neocortex ratio were correlated with network efficiency. Centralisation (whether several individuals are central in the group) and modularity (how a group is clustered) had opposing effects on network efficiency, showing that tolerant species have more efficient networks. Such network properties affecting individual fitness could be shaped by natural selection. Our results are in accordance with the social brain and cultural intelligence hypotheses, which suggest that the importance of network efficiency and information flow through social learning relates to cognitive abilities.

Diffusion Dynamics of Socially Learned Foraging Techniques in Squirrel Monkeys

Claidière, N., Messer, Emily J. E., Hoppitt, W., & Whiten, A. (2013). Diffusion Dynamics of Socially Learned Foraging Techniques in Squirrel Monkeys. Current Biology, 23(13), 1251-1255.

Abstract: Social network analyses [1–5] and experimental studies of social learning [6–10] have each become important domains of animal behavior research in recent years yet have remained largely separate. Here we bring them together, providing the first demonstration of how social networks may shape the diffusion of socially learned foraging techniques [11]. One technique for opening an artificial fruit was seeded in the dominant male of a group of squirrel monkeys and an alternative technique in the dominant male of a second group. We show that the two techniques spread preferentially in the groups in which they were initially seeded and that this process was influenced by monkeys’ association patterns. Eigenvector centrality predicted both the speed with which an individual would first succeed in opening the artificial fruit and the probability that they would acquire the cultural variant seeded in their group. These findings demonstrate a positive role of social networks in determining how a new foraging technique diffuses through a population.

Network Analysis of Social Changes

pdf icon Schel, A. M., B. Rawlings, et al. (2012). “Network Analysis of Social Changes in a Captive Chimpanzee Community Following the Successful Integration of Two Adult Groups.” American Jourmal of Primatology DOI: 10.1002/ajp.22101

Chimpanzees are highly territorial and have the potential to be extremely aggressive toward unfamiliar individuals. In the wild, transfer between groups is almost exclusively completed by nulliparous females, yet in captivity there is often a need to introduce and integrate a range of individuals, including adult males. We describe the process of successfully integrating two groups of chimpanzees, each containing 11 individuals, in the Budongo Trail facility at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s Edinburgh Zoo. We use social network analysis to document changes in group dynamics within this population over the 16 months following integration. Aggression rates were low overall and members of the two original groups engaged in significantly fewer aggressive interactions over time. Association and grooming data indicate that relationships between members of the original groups became stronger and more affiliative with time. Despite these positive indicators the association data revealed the continued existence of two distinct subgroups, a year after integration. Our data show that when given complex space and freedom to exhibit natural fission–fusion groupings, in which the chimpanzees choose whom they wish to associate and interact with, the building of strong affiliative relationships with unfamiliar individuals is a very gradual process.