Aggression-affiliation Motifs in Bottlenose Dolphins’ Social Networks

Perez Manrique, Ana (Advisors: Fernandez-Gracia, Juan; Ramasco, Jose J.)
Master Thesis (2020)

Networks in biology have provided a powerful tool to describe and study very complex biological processes and systems. In this master thesis, we are interested in a specific type of biological system: social groups of animals. Social network analysis allows us to study many different processes that take place in animal social groups ranging from the formation of hierarchies and alliances within group members to the transmission of information. Furthermore, using network analysis we can explore the emergence of different patterns of behaviour at the group and population level. In this work, we focus on how conflict dynamics and postconflict interactions shape social networks of groups of captive bottlenose dolphins. Examining changes to the social structure over time can broaden our understanding of the functions, dynamics and organization of animal social groups. With this aim in mind, we first examined temporal changes and aggression-affiliation motifs in the observed bottlenose dolphins’ network structure. Then, using the results of the previous analysis we built two models that simulate the dynamics of aggression and affiliation in a small group of dolphins. This type of models can help us to broaden our understanding on the factors influencing the social dynamics of dolphin groups.

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