Social responses to the natural loss of individuals in Barbary macaques

Fedurek, P., McFarland, R. ORCID: 0000-0001-8245-9269, Majolo, B. and Lehmann, J., 2022. Social responses to the natural loss of individuals in Barbary macaques. Mammalian Biology. ISSN 1616-5047

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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.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Mammalian Biology
Creators: Fedurek, P., McFarland, R., Majolo, B. and Lehmann, J.
Publisher: Springer
Date: 9 September 2022
ISSN: 1616-5047
Rights: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 21 Mar 2023 13:00
Last Modified: 21 Mar 2023 13:00

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