C. J Dey, A. R Reddon, C. M O'Connor, and S. Balshine (2013)
Network structure is related to social conflict in a cooperatively breeding fish
Animal Behaviour, 85(2):395-402.
The nature of individual social interactions can have a profound influence on group structure and function. Here, we use social network analysis to examine patterns of dominance interactions and spatial associations in 14 captive social groups of the cooperatively breeding cichlid, Neolamprologus pulcher. In this cichlid, social groups are composed of a dominant breeding pair and 1-20 nonbreeding subordinate helpers that form size-based queues for breeding positions. In the current study, we performed the first quantitative analysis of N. pulcher dominance hierarchies. We found that dominance hierarchies of N. pulcher were highly linear and that interactions within dyads were directionally consistent. We also found that dominance interactions were not equally distributed across the network, but instead occurred most frequently at the top of the social hierarchy. Contrary to our predictions, neither body size asymmetry nor sex predicted the observed dominance interactions and patterns of associations. However, breeders were more connected than helpers within the networks, perhaps due to their policing role. This study is one of a small handful to conduct network analysis on replicate social groups, and thus is one of few studies able to make general conclusions on the social structure of its focal species. The patterns uncovered suggest that conflict over breeding position inheritance has a strong impact on relationships among group members in N. pulcher. (C) 2012 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.