Social Network Dynamics and Information Transmission in Wild Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus)

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Title: Social Network Dynamics and Information Transmission in Wild Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus)
Authors: Jones, Theresa
Date: 2016
Abstract: Animals exhibit a wide variety of social behaviours that are shaped by the external group social structure. Thus, understanding social behaviours and processes requires examining the individual social associations that form the basis of a group’s social network. The first objective of this thesis was to assess the consistency of social position within wild networks of black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) and to evaluate the effects of individual behavioural traits (exploratory personality and social dominance) on network position. Intra-annual social position was found to be repeatable and centrality increased with dominance rank, suggesting that dominant individuals occupy more central positions. The second objective of this thesis was to evaluate how network position and individual traits influence the transmission of social information through groups; the use of information acquired by other group members is expected to be an important benefit to group living. Social information regarding the location of novel foraging patches was observed to be transmitted through all eight chickadee groups. The rate of information transmission was found to be positively associated with dominance rank, but was not influenced by exploratory personality, indicating that dominant individuals may have greater access to social information than more subordinate individuals. The final aim of this thesis was to assess if social information transmission varied between urban and rural environments, as increased resource variability in more rural sites was expected to lead to higher reliance on social foraging cues. However, no effect of level of urbanisation was detected on the transmission of social information regarding novel food sources, which may indicate a habitat-independent strategy of social information use in chickadees. In general the results from this thesis indicate the importance of dominance status on individuals’ position within a social group, which can lead to differential exposure to social processes, such as social information transmission.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/34974
http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-4965
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -
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