A multiplex centrality metric for complex social networks: Sex, social status, and family structure predict multiplex centrality in rhesus macaques

Brianne Beisner, Niklas Braun, Márton Pósfai, Jessica Vandeleest, Raissa D'Souza, Brenda McCowan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Members of a society interact using a variety of social behaviors, giving rise to a multifaceted and complex social life. For the study of animal behavior, quantifying this complexity is critical for understanding the impact of social life on animals' health and fitness. Multilayer network approaches, where each interaction type represents a different layer of the social network, have the potential to better capture this complexity than single layer approaches. Calculating individuals' centrality within a multilayer social network can reveal keystone individuals and more fully characterize social roles. However, existing measures of multilayer centrality do not account for differences in the dynamics and functionality across interaction layers. Here we validate a new method for quantifying multiplex centrality called consensus ranking by applying this method to multiple social groups of a well-studied nonhuman primate, the rhesus macaque. Consensus ranking can suitably handle the complexities of animal social life, such as networks with different properties (sparse vs. dense) and biological meanings (competitive vs. affiliative interactions). We examined whether individuals' attributes or socio-demographic factors (sex, age, dominance rank and certainty, matriline size, rearing history) were associated with multiplex centrality. Social networks were constructed for five interaction layers (i.e., aggression, status signaling, conflict policing, grooming and huddling) for seven social groups. Consensus ranks were calculated across these five layers and analyzed with respect to individual attributes and sociodemographic factors. Generalized linear mixed models showed that consensus ranking detected known social patterns in rhesus macaques, showing that multiplex centrality was greater in high-ranking males with high certainty of rank and females from the largest families. In addition, consensus ranks also showed that females from very small families and mother-reared (compared to nursery-reared) individuals were more central, showing that consideration of multiple social domains revealed individuals whose social centrality and importance might otherwise have been missed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere8712
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Animal behavior
  • Complex societies
  • Multilayer networks
  • Network analysis
  • Nonhuman primates
  • Social behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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