Animal Social Network Theory Can Help Wildlife Conservation

Lysanne Snijders*, Daniel T. Blumstein, Christina R. Stanley, Daniel W. Franks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Many animals preferentially associate with certain other individuals. This social structuring can influence how populations respond to changes to their environment, thus making network analysis a promising technique for understanding, predicting, and potentially manipulating population dynamics. Various network statistics can correlate with individual fitness components and key population-level processes, yet the logical role and formal application of animal social network theory for conservation and management have not been well articulated. We outline how understanding of direct and indirect relationships between animals can be profitably applied by wildlife managers and conservationists. By doing so, we aim to stimulate the development and implementation of practical tools for wildlife conservation and management and to inspire novel behavioral research in this field. Understanding social network structure and position can aid wildlife conservation.Threatened wildlife populations offer a vital experimental platform for animal SNA.Linking animal SNA to practice stimulates design of new practical tools and theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-577
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Animal social network analysis
  • Behavior-based management
  • Conservation biology
  • Social connectivity
  • Wildlife management

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