Multiple spatial behaviours govern social network positions in a wild ungulate

Gregory F. Albery*, Alison Morris, Sean Morris, Josephine M. Pemberton, Tim H. Clutton-Brock, Daniel H. Nussey, Josh A. Firth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The structure of wild animal social systems depends on a complex combination of intrinsic and extrinsic drivers. Population structuring and spatial behaviour are key determinants of individuals’ observed social behaviour, but quantifying these spatial components alongside multiple other drivers remains difficult due to data scarcity and analytical complexity. We used a 43-year dataset detailing a wild red deer population to investigate how individuals’ spatial behaviours drive social network positioning, while simultaneously assessing other potential contributing factors. Using Integrated Nested Laplace Approximation (INLA) multi-matrix animal models, we demonstrate that social network positions are shaped by two-dimensional landscape locations, pairwise space sharing, individual range size, and spatial and temporal variation in population density, alongside smaller but detectable impacts of a selection of individual-level phenotypic traits. These results indicate strong, multifaceted spatiotemporal structuring in this society, emphasising the importance of considering multiple spatial components when investigating the causes and consequences of sociality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)676-686
Number of pages11
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number4
Early online date14 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021


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