Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 63, Issue 7, pp 1089-1096

First online:

Social network analysis and valid Markov chain Monte Carlo tests of null models

  • Stefan KrauseAffiliated withFachbereich Elektrotechnik und Informatik, University of Applied Sciences Lübeck Email author 
  • , Lutz MattnerAffiliated withFB IV-Mathematik, Universität Trier
  • , Richard JamesAffiliated withDepartment of Physics, University of Bath
  • , Tristan GuttridgeAffiliated withInstitute of Integrative and Comparative Biology, University of Leeds
  • , Mark J. CorcoranAffiliated withBimini Biological Field Station
  • , Samuel H. GruberAffiliated withBimini Biological Field Station
  • , Jens KrauseAffiliated withInstitute of Integrative and Comparative Biology, University of Leeds

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Analyses of animal social networks derived from group-based associations often rely on randomisation methods developed in ecology (Manly, Ecology 76:1109–1115, 1995) and made available to the animal behaviour community through implementation of a pair-wise swapping algorithm by Bejder et al. (Anim Behav 56:719–725, 1998). We report a correctable flaw in this method and point the reader to a wider literature on the subject of null models in the ecology literature. We illustrate the importance of correcting the method using a toy network and use it to make a preliminary analysis of a network of associations among eagle rays.


Null models Social network analysis Markov chain Monte Carlo tests Group living