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R Soc Open Sci. 2015 May 13;2(5):140444. doi: 10.1098/rsos.140444. eCollection 2015 May.

Phenotypic assortment in wild primate networks: implications for the dissemination of information.

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Large Animal Research Group, Department of Zoology , University of Cambridge , Cambridge, UK.
The Institute of Zoology , Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park , London, UK ; Division of Ecology and Evolution, Department of Life Sciences , Imperial College London, Silwood Park , Berkshire, UK.
Centre for Ecology and Conservation, College of Life and Environmental Sciences , University of Exeter , Penryn, UK.
The Institute of Zoology , Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park , London, UK.


Individuals' access to social information can depend on their social network. Homophily-a preference to associate with similar phenotypes-may cause assortment within social networks that could preclude information transfer from individuals who generate information to those who would benefit from acquiring it. Thus, understanding phenotypic assortment may lead to a greater understanding of the factors that could limit the transfer of information between individuals. We tested whether there was assortment in wild baboon (Papio ursinus) networks, using data collected from two troops over 6 years for six phenotypic traits-boldness, age, dominance rank, sex and the propensity to generate/exploit information-using two methods for defining a connection between individuals-time spent in proximity and grooming. Our analysis indicated that assortment was more common in grooming than proximity networks. In general, there was homophily for boldness, age, rank and the propensity to both generate and exploit information, but heterophily for sex. However, there was considerable variability both between troops and years. The patterns of homophily we observed for these phenotypes may impede information transfer between them. However, the inconsistency in the strength of assortment between troops and years suggests that the limitations to information flow may be quite variable.


chacma baboon; personality; phenotypic assortment; social information; social network

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