Inferring social structure from temporal data

Ioannis Psorakis, Bernhard Voelkl*, C.J. Garroway, Reinder Radersma, L.M. Aplin, R.A. Crates, Antica Culina, D.R. Farine, J.A. Firth, C.A. Hinde, Lindall R. Kidd, Nicole D. Milligan, Stephen J. Roberts, Brecht Verhelst, Ben C. Sheldon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Social network analysis has become a popular tool for characterising the social structure of populations. Animal social networks can be built either by observing individuals and defining links based on the occurrence of specific types of social interactions, or by linking individuals based on observations of physical proximity or group membership, given a certain behavioural activity. The latter approaches of discovering network structure require splitting the temporal observation stream into discrete events given an appropriate time resolution parameter. This process poses several non-trivial problems which have not received adequate attention so far. Here, using data from a study of passive integrated transponder (PIT)-tagged great tits Parus major, we discuss these problems, demonstrate how the choice of the extraction method and the temporal resolution parameter influence the appearance and properties of the retrieved network and suggest a modus operandi that minimises observer bias due to arbitrary parameter choice. Our results have important implications for all studies of social networks where associations are based on spatio-temporal proximity, and more generally for all studies where we seek to uncover the relationships amongst a population of individuals that are observed through a temporal data stream of appearance records.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)857-866
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Volume69
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • Flocks
  • Gathering events
  • Great tits
  • Group detection
  • Social networks

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    Psorakis, I., Voelkl, B., Garroway, C. J., Radersma, R., Aplin, L. M., Crates, R. A., Culina, A., Farine, D. R., Firth, J. A., Hinde, C. A., Kidd, L. R., Milligan, N. D., Roberts, S. J., Verhelst, B., & Sheldon, B. C. (2015). Inferring social structure from temporal data. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 69(5), 857-866. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-015-1906-0