Multi-group analysis of grooming network position in a highly social primate
Journal Contribution - Journal Article
Individual variation in complex social behavioral traits, like primate grooming, can be influenced by the characteristics of the individual and those of its social group. To better grasp this complexity, social network analysis can be used to quantify direct and indirect grooming relationships. However, multi-group social network studies remain rare, despite their importance to disentangle individual from group-level trait effects on grooming strategies. We applied social network analysis to grooming data of 22 groups of zoo-housed bonobos and investigated the impact of three individual (sex, age, and rearing-history) and two group-level traits (group size and sex ratio) on five social network measures (out-strength, in-strength, disparity, affinity, and eigenvector centrality). Our results showed age-effects on all investigated measures: for females, all measures except for affinity showed quadratic relationships with age, while in males, the effects of age were more variable depending on the network measure. Bonobos with atypical rearing histories showed lower out-strength and eigenvector centrality, while in-strength was only impacted by rearing history in males. Group size showed a negative association with disparity and eigenvector centrality, while sex ratio did not influence any of the investigated measures. Standardization for group size did not impact the effects of sex and age, indicating the robustness of these findings. Our study provides comprehensive insights into the complexity of grooming behavior in zoo-housed bonobos, and underlines the importance of multi-group analyses for the generalizability of social network analysis results for species as a whole.