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Using social networks to explore the social flexibility of urban vervet monkeys

Thatcher, H, Downs, CT and Koyama, N Using social networks to explore the social flexibility of urban vervet monkeys. Urban Ecosystems. ISSN 1083-8155 (Accepted)

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Increasing urbanisation reduces available habitat and increases human-wildlife interactions, presenting social and ecological challenges for many species; however, flexible generalist species, such as the vervet monkey, Chlorocebus pygerythrus, thrive under these pressures. In the urban mosaic, human-food sources represent clumped, monopolisable food that can increase contest competition. Social network analysis (SNA) is a powerful tool to monitor changes in social structure, yet it has rarely been used to study urban wildlife. Using SNA, we investigated the effect of anthropogenic food and human-wildlife interactions on social cohesion in five vervet monkey groups in urban KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Over six months, we conducted group scan samples every 30-min on each group and recorded all humans-vervet monkey interactions during dawn to dusk follows. We analysed the effect of foraging on natural and human-related food sources and human-vervet monkey interactions on social network metrics for grooming and aggression at group (density, clustering coefficient and distance) and individual (eigenvector centrality and degree) levels, using linear mixed models. Anthropogenic food influenced almost all social metrics. At the group level, foraging on anthropogenic food was related to increased density and cohesion in both grooming and aggression networks. At the individual level, increasing anthropogenic food affected high-ranking monkeys most: eigenvector centrality and outdegree in aggression networks increased with rank. Social network analysis can be a useful tool to document urban effects on wildlife groups, and aids our understanding of wildlife behavioural flexibility, a key tool in developing educated and effective management strategies.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review (when applicable) and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Socio-ecology; human-wildlife coexistence; anthropogenic food; Chlorocebus pygerythrus,; ethnoprimatology; 0501 Ecological Applications; 0602 Ecology; Ecology
Subjects: S Agriculture > SF Animal culture
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: Springer
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2024 13:48
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2024 13:48
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/22900
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