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Title: Social interactions predict patterns of communication and learning
Authors: Kulahci, Ipek Gokce
Advisors: Ghazanfar, Asif A.
Rubenstein, Daniel I.
Contributors: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department
Keywords: Animal cognition
Individual recognition
Information transmission
Lemur catta
Social networks
Subjects: Animal behavior
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Most social species display social selectivity by establishing connections with only a subset of their group members. Selective social connections, based on who interacts with whom and how frequently, can have consequences for who becomes socially central, who communicates with whom, who observes whom when faced with novel information, and who learns faster than others. Through observations and experiments with ring-tailed lemurs (<italic>Lemur catta</italic>), I demonstrate that selectivity in social connections is reflected in selective communication, selective attention, and information transmission. I constructed social networks from connections based on affiliative interactions (grooming, social play, food sharing), communication (contact calling, scent marking), aggressive interactions, and physical proximity. Through analysis of these networks, I demonstrate that lemurs are highly selective in their social connections. Individuals who have high social centrality in one social context also have high social centrality in several other social contexts, suggesting that lemurs display "social personalities" that carry over across different social contexts. Lemur communication is also subject to social selectivity. Contact calls, in particular, reflect the strong social bonds between the group members. A reliable indicator of strong social bonds is grooming, and lemurs produce vocal responses to the contact calls of the group members they frequently groom. Selective vocal responses towards the group members with whom strong bonds are shared may allow lemurs to "groom-at-a-distance" when they are separated from each other. Besides contact calls, lemurs also communicate via scent marks. I show evidence that lemurs recognize familiar conspecifics by matching identity information found in the scent marks to those found in the contact calls. Such ability to recognize others is critical for maintaining selectivity in social connections. Social selectivity also has consequences for attention and information transmission. When faced with a novel task, lemurs attend to, and potentially learn from, the group members with whom they share affiliative connections. Social play, in particular, stands out among other connections in reliably predicting the patterns of both selective attention (who observes whom solve the task) and information transmission (who solves the task when). Overall, these results demonstrate positive relationships between selective social connections, communication, attention, and learning.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

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