Quantifying uncertainty due to fission–fusion dynamics as a component of social complexity
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Groups of animals (including humans) may showflexible grouping patterns, in which temporary aggregations or subgroups come together and split, changing composition over short temporal scales, (i.e. fission and fusion). A high degree of fission–fusion dynamics may constrain the regulation of social relationships, introducing uncertainty in interactions between group members. Here we use Shannon’s entropy to quantify the predictability of subgroup composition for three species known to differ in the way their subgroups come together and split over time: spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi), chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and geladas (Theropithecus gelada). We formulate a random expectation of entropy that considers subgroup size variation and sample size, against which the observed entropy in subgroup composition can be compared. Using the theory of set partitioning, we also develop a method to estimate the number of subgroups that the group is likely to be divided into, based on the composition and size of single focal subgroups. Our results indicate that Shannon’s entropy and the estimated number of subgroups present at a given time provide quantitative metrics of uncertainty in the social environment (within which social relationships must be regulated) for groups with different degrees of fission–fusion dynamics. These metrics also represent an indirect quantification of the cognitive challenges posed by socially dynamic environments. Overall, our novel methodological approach provides new insight for understanding the evolution of social complexity and the mechanisms to cope with the uncertainty that results from fission–fusion dynamics.
Ramos-Fernandez , G , King , A J , Beehner , J C , Bergman , T J , Crofoot , M C , Di Fiore , A , Lehmann , J , Schaffner , C M , Snyder-Mackler , N , Zuberbühler , K , Aureli , F & Boyer , D 2018 , ' Quantifying uncertainty due to fission–fusion dynamics as a component of social complexity ' Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences , vol. 285 , no. 1879 , 20180532 . https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2018.0532
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
© 2018 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved. This work has been made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the author created, accepted version manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2018.0532
DescriptionFunding was provided by CONACYT and Instituto Politécnico Nacional (G.R.F.), Santander Mobility Award/Swansea University (A.J.K.), Wildlife Conservation Society, National Geographic Society, Leakey Foundation, National Science Foundation and the National Institute on Aging (T.J.B., J.C.B. and N.S.M.), National Geographic, CONACYT and Chester Zoo (F.A. and C.S.), UNAM PAPIIT-105015 (D.B.), NSF IOS-1255974, BCS-0715179 (T.B. and J.B.), SBE-1723237 and NIH R00-AG051764 (N.S.M.) (T.B. and J.B.) and NSF III 1514174 and David and Lucile Packard Foundation 2016-65130 (M.C.C.).
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