Association networks in spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi)
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- Ramos-Fernández, G., Boyer, D., Aureli, F. et al. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2009) 63: 999. doi:10.1007/s00265-009-0719-4
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We use two novel techniques to analyze association patterns in a group of wild spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) studied continuously for 8 years. Permutation tests identified association rates higher or lower than chance expectation, indicating active processes of companionship and avoidance as opposed to passive aggregation. Network graphs represented individual adults as nodes and their association rates as weighted edges. Strength and eigenvector centrality (a measure of how strongly linked an individual is to other strongly linked individuals) were used to quantify the particular role of individuals in determining the network's structure. Female–female dyads showed higher association rates than any other type of dyad, but permutation tests revealed that these associations cannot be distinguished from random aggregation. Females formed tightly linked clusters that were stable over time, with the exception of immigrant females who showed little association with any adult in the group. Eigenvector centrality was higher for females than for males. Adult males were associated mostly among them, and although their strength of association with others was lower than that of females, their association rates revealed a process of active companionship. Female–male bonds were weaker than those between same-sex pairs, with the exception of those involving young male adults, who by virtue of their strong connections both with female and male adults, appear as temporary brokers between the female and male clusters of the network. This analytical framework can serve to develop a more complete explanation of social structure in species with high levels of fission–fusion dynamics.