Social network analysis and valid Markov chain Monte Carlo tests of null models
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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.
KeywordsNull models Social network analysis Markov chain Monte Carlo tests Group living
JK acknowledges the financial support from the NERC and the EPSRC, and TG was supported by a Leverhulme fellowship. SK is grateful to Ralf Schiffer for some very useful initial discussions. We thank Herbert Krause for providing the drawing in Fig. 1.
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