Date of this Version
Published in Behavioral Ecology 31:1 (2020), pp 1–11.
Demographic processes play a key role in shaping the patterns of social relations among individuals in a population. Social network analysis is a powerful quantitative tool for assessing the social structure formed by associations between individuals. However, demographic processes are rarely accounted for in such analyses. Here, we summarize how the structure of animal social networks is shaped by the joint effects of social behavior and turnover of individuals and suggest how a deeper understanding of these processes can open new, exciting avenues for research. Death or dispersal can have the direct effect of removing an individual and all its social connections, and can also have indirect effects, spurring changes in the distribution of social connections between remaining individuals. Recruitment and integration of juveniles and immigrant into existing social networks are critical to the emergence and persistence of social network structure. Together, these behavioral responses to loss and gain of social partners may impact how societies respond to seasonal or catastrophic turnover events. The fitness consequences of social position (e.g., survival and reproductive rates) may also create feedback between the social network structure and demography. Understanding how social structure changes in response to turnover of individuals requires further integration between long-term field studies and network modeling methods. These efforts will likely yield new insights into the connections between social networks and life history, ecological change, and evolutionary dynamics.