Detection of social group instability among captive rhesus macaques using joint network modeling

Brianne Beisner, Jian Jin, Hsieh Fushing, Brenda Mccowan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Social stability in group-living animals is an emergent property which arises from the interaction amongst multiple behavioral networks. However, pinpointing when a social group is at risk of collapse is difficult. We used a joint network modeling approach to examine the interdependencies between two behavioral networks, aggression and status signaling, from four stable and three unstable groups of rhesus macaques in order to identify characteristic patterns of network interdependence in stable groups that are readily distinguishable from unstable groups. Our results showed that the most prominent source of aggression- status network interdependence in stable social groups came from more frequent dyads than expected with opposite direction status-aggression (i.e. A threatens B and B signals acceptance of subordinate status). In contrast, unstable groups showed a decrease in opposite direction aggression-status dyads (but remained higher than expected) as well as more frequent than expected dyads with bidirectional aggression. These results demonstrate that not only was the stable joint relationship between aggression and status networks readily distinguishable from unstable time points, social instability manifested in at least two different ways. In sum, our joint modeling approach may prove useful in quantifying and monitoring the complex social dynamics of any wild or captive social system, as all social systems are composed of multiple interconnected networks

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-84
Number of pages15
JournalCurrent Zoology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015


  • Aggression
  • Dominance
  • Network stability
  • Nonhuman primates
  • Social network analysis
  • Status signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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