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Implications of Animal Social Networks for Individuals, Social Communities, and Populations

Anastasia E Madsen, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The way that social structures and behaviors change in response to perturbation and how they function in wildlife populations are fundamental to socioecology. This dissertation addresses three fundamental questions about the dynamics of animal social systems: 1) what is the relationship between social and spatial fidelity, 2) how do population dynamics and social dynamics interact, and 3) how do novel behaviors spread in populations? I ask these questions in a long-term study population of golden-crowned sparrows (Zonotrichia atricapilla), a migratory songbird in western North America. In Chapter 1, I show that birds had high site fidelity between winters (within 30 m), birds increased precision of fidelity with age, and birds with fewer returning close flockmates altered their space use more than others with more returning close flockmates. In Chapter 2, I describe stability dynamics of sparrows over a 12-year period, and show that population dynamics, including birds entering the population for the first time, birds leaving the population through death or emigration, and returning birds, affected social dynamics differently between levels of social organization. Finally, in Chapter 3 I show that sparrows were able to socially learn a novel foraging task and that dominance interactions at feeders significantly decreased success rates for birds attempting to perform the novel task. This dissertation provides new perspectives on how social and demographic processes interact to shape winter foraging groups for migratory species.

Subject Area

Ecology|Social structure|Behavioral Sciences|Biology

Recommended Citation

Madsen, Anastasia E, "Implications of Animal Social Networks for Individuals, Social Communities, and Populations" (2023). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI30425057.