Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 64, Issue 9, pp 1449–1459 | Cite as

Simulation of information propagation in real-life primate networks: longevity, fecundity, fidelity

Original Paper


In many vertebrate species, we find temporally stable traditions of socially learned behaviors. The social structure of animal populations is highly diverse and it has been proposed that differences in the social organization influence the patterns of information propagation. Here, we provide results of a simulation study of information propagation on real-life social networks of 70 primate groups comprising 30 different species. We found that models that include the social structure of a group differ significantly from those that assume random associations of individuals. Information spreads slower in the structured groups than in the well-mixed groups. While we found only a minor effect on the path lengths of the transmission chains, robustness against information extinction was strongly influenced by the group structure. Interestingly, robustness against information loss was not correlated with propagation speed but could be predicted reasonably well by relative strength assortativity—a structural network metric. In those groups where highly pro-social individuals preferentially interact with other pro-social individuals, information was more likely to be lost. Our results show that incorporating group structure in any social propagation model significantly alters predictions for spreading patterns, speed, and robustness of information.


Social learning Information transmission Propagation Tradition Epidemic modeling 

Supplementary material

265_2010_960_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (327 kb)
ESM 1(PDF 326 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ethologie des Primates, Département Ecologie, Physiologie & Ethologie, IPHC (UMR 7178)CNRS–Université de StrasbourgStrasbourgFrance
  2. 2.Faculté PsychologieUniversité de StrasbourgStrasbourgFrance

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