Interspecific social networks promote information transmission in wild songbirds

Farine, Damien R. and Aplin, Lucy M. and Sheldon, Ben C. and Hoppitt, William J. E. (2015) Interspecific social networks promote information transmission in wild songbirds. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 282 (1803). ISSN 1471-2954

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2014.2804

Abstract

Understanding the functional links between social structure and population processes is a central aim of evolutionary ecology. Multiple types of interactions can be represented by networks drawn for the same population, such as kinship, dominance or affiliative networks, but the relative importance of alternative networks in modulating population processes may not be clear. We illustrate this problem, and a solution, by developing a framework for testing the importance of different types of association in facilitating the transmission of information. We apply this framework to experimental data from wild songbirds that form mixed-species flocks, recording the arrival (patch discovery) of individuals to novel foraging sites. We tested whether intraspecific and interspecific social networks predicted the spread of information about novel food sites, and found that both contributed to transmission. The likelihood of acquiring information per unit of connection to knowledgeable individuals increased 22-fold for conspecifics, and 12-fold for heterospecifics. We also found that species varied in how much information they produced, suggesting that some species play a keystone role in winter foraging flocks. More generally, these analyses demonstrate that this method provides a powerful approach, using social networks to quantify the relative transmission rates across different social relationships.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: social networks, public information, social information, transmission networks, network-based diffusion analysis, mixed-species flocking
Faculty: Faculty of Science & Technology
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2019 16:07
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2019 16:07
URI: http://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/704493

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