Wild cricket social networks show stability across generations
BMC Evolutionary Biology
© 2016 The Author(s). Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated
BACKGROUND: A central part of an animal's environment is its interactions with conspecifics. There has been growing interest in the potential to capture these interactions in the form of a social network. Such networks can then be used to examine how relationships among individuals affect ecological and evolutionary processes. However, in the context of selection and evolution, the utility of this approach relies on social network structures persisting across generations. This is an assumption that has been difficult to test because networks spanning multiple generations have not been available. We constructed social networks for six annual generations over a period of eight years for a wild population of the cricket Gryllus campestris. RESULTS: Through the use of exponential random graph models (ERGMs), we found that the networks in any given year were able to predict the structure of networks in other years for some network characteristics. The capacity of a network model of any given year to predict the networks of other years did not depend on how far apart those other years were in time. Instead, the capacity of a network model to predict the structure of a network in another year depended on the similarity in population size between those years. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that cricket social network structure resists the turnover of individuals and is stable across generations. This would allow evolutionary processes that rely on network structure to take place. The influence of network size may indicate that scaling up findings on social behaviour from small populations to larger ones will be difficult. Our study also illustrates the utility of ERGMs for comparing networks, a task for which an effective approach has been elusive.
Funding for this research was provided by NERC (studentship no.: NE/ H02249X/1; grant no.: NE/H02364X/1
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Vol. 16: 151
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