Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 63, Issue 7, pp 999–1013 | Cite as

Association networks in spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi)

  • Gabriel Ramos-Fernández
  • Denis Boyer
  • Filippo Aureli
  • Laura G. Vick
Original Paper


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.


Social networks Fission–fusion Spider monkeys Centrality 



We would like to thank David Lusseau for assistance in several aspects of data analysis, as well as to the rest of the participants in the Halifax IEC symposium on animal social networks for interesting ideas and discussion. Louise Barrett and one anonymous reviewer provided useful comments. We are grateful to the logistic support from the Punta Laguna community and Pronatura Peninsula de Yucatan. We would like to thank Eulogio Canul, Macedonio Canul, Augusto Canul, and Juan Canul for valuable assistance in the field and Colleen Schaffner and David Taub for sharing the management of the long-term project. Funding for fieldwork and data analysis was provided by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the North of England Zoological Society, Peace College, CONABIO, SEMARNAT-CONACYT (Project 0536-2002), SEP-CONACYT (Project J51278), and Instituto Politécnico Nacional. The experiments comply with the current laws of Mexico.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gabriel Ramos-Fernández
    • 1
    • 3
  • Denis Boyer
    • 2
    • 3
  • Filippo Aureli
    • 4
  • Laura G. Vick
    • 5
  1. 1.CIIDIR Unidad Oaxaca, Instituto Politécnico NacionalSanta Cruz XoxocotlánMexico
  2. 2.Instituto de FísicaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMexico CityMexico
  3. 3.Centro de Ciencias de la Complejidad, Torre de IngenieraUniversidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM)Mexico CityMexico
  4. 4.Research Centre in Evolutionary Anthropology and Palaeoecology, School of Biological and Earth SciencesLiverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK
  5. 5.Department of AnthropologyPeace CollegeRaleighUSA

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