, Volume 50, Issue 4, pp 343–356 | Cite as

A social network analysis of primate groups

  • Claudia Kasper
  • Bernhard Voelkl
Original Article


Primate social systems are difficult to characterize, and existing classification schemes have been criticized for being overly simplifying, formulated only on a verbal level or partly inconsistent. Social network analysis comprises a collection of analytical tools rooted in the framework of graph theory that were developed to study human social interaction patterns. More recently these techniques have been successfully applied to examine animal societies. Primate social systems differ from those of humans in both size and density, requiring an approach that puts more emphasis on the quality of relationships. Here, we discuss a set of network measures that are useful to describe primate social organization and we present the results of a network analysis of 70 groups from 30 different species. For this purpose we concentrated on structural measures on the group level, describing the distribution of interaction patterns, centrality, and group structuring. We found considerable variability in those measures, reflecting the high degree of diversity of primate social organizations. By characterizing primate groups in terms of their network metrics we can draw a much finer picture of their internal structure that might be useful for species comparisons as well as the interpretation of social behavior.


Social network analysis Primate social systems Weighted measures 



We would like to thank very much the following colleagues: Cécile Fruteau, Odile Petit, Christelle Scheid, Bernard Thierry, and Stacey Tecot for sharing their unpublished sociomatrices of several primate groups, and Cédric Sueur, Bernard Thierry, and two anonymous reviewers who helped to improve the manuscript. This study received funding from the EU-NEST project GEBACO (28696).

Supplementary material

10329_2009_153_MOESM1_ESM.doc (127 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 127 kb)


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ethologie des Primates, Département Ecologie, Physiologie et Ethologie (DEPE) IPHC (CNRS UMR 7178)Strasbourg CedexFrance
  2. 2.Université Louis PasteurStrasbourgFrance

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