U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Current Zoology, 2021, 67(1), 101–111

doi: 10.1093/cz/zoaa077


This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License


A multilayer network approach combines different network layers, which are connected by interlayer edges, to create a single mathematical object. These networks can contain a variety of information types and represent different aspects of a system. However, the process for selecting which information to include is not always straightforward. Using data on 2 agonistic behaviors in a captive population of monk parakeets (Myiopsitta monachus), we developed a framework for investigating how pooling or splitting behaviors at the scale of dyadic relationships (between 2 individuals) affects individual- and group-level social properties. We designed 2 reference models to test whether randomizing the number of interactions across behavior types results in similar structural patterns as the observed data. Although the behaviors were correlated, the first reference model suggests that the 2 behaviors convey different information about some social properties and should therefore not be pooled. However, once we controlled for data sparsity, we found that the observed measures corresponded with those from the second reference model. Hence, our initial result may have been due to the unequal frequencies of each behavior. Overall, our findings support pooling the 2 behaviors. Awareness of how selected measurements can be affected by data properties is warranted, but nonetheless our framework disentangles these efforts and as a result can be used for myriad types of behaviors and questions. This framework will help researchers make informed and data-driven decisions about which behaviors to pool or separate, prior to using the data in subsequent multilayer network analyses.