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Contact patterns reveal a stable dynamic community structure with fission-fusion dynamics in wild house mice


Liechti, Jonas I; Qian, B; König, Barbara; Bonhoeffer, Sebastian (2020). Contact patterns reveal a stable dynamic community structure with fission-fusion dynamics in wild house mice. arXiv.org 963512, University of Zurich.

Abstract

Living in groups is a widely adopted strategy in gregarious species. For group-living individuals it is crucial to be capable to integrate into a social structure. While there is an intuitive understanding that the concept of a group arises through some form of cohesion between its members, the exact definition of what constitutes a group and thus tasks like the detection of the dynamics of a group over time is a challenge. One way of measuring cohesion is through direct interactions between individuals. However, there is increasing evidence that associations between individuals can be mediated by others, and thus, that the drivers for group cohesion extend beyond direct individual interactions. We use dynamic community detection, allowing to relate individuals beyond direct contacts, both structurally and temporally, to study the social structure in a long-term study of a population of free-ranging house mice in a barn in Switzerland. During the 2-year study period, mice had unlimited access to food, and population density increased by 50%. Despite strong fluctuations in individual contact behaviour, population demography and structure embed into long-lived dynamic communities that are characterised by spatial fidelity, persist over several seasons and reproduction cycles, and considerably extend the life-span of single individuals. Within these multi-male and multi-female communities, seasonal changes strongly affect their structure, leading to fission-fusion like dynamics. We identify female-female interactions as the main driver for the longevity of these communities, a finding that contrasts with prior reports of the importance of a dominant male for the stability of a group. Moreover, males have a drastically shorter presence time in the study population and more often move between communities than females. Nevertheless, interacting with other breeding males in stable communities increases the duration of male presence and thus, potentially, reproductive success. Our analysis of contact patterns in a rodent that uses shelters to rest, hide and rear offspring emphasises the importance of female-bonded communities in the structuring of the population.

Abstract

Living in groups is a widely adopted strategy in gregarious species. For group-living individuals it is crucial to be capable to integrate into a social structure. While there is an intuitive understanding that the concept of a group arises through some form of cohesion between its members, the exact definition of what constitutes a group and thus tasks like the detection of the dynamics of a group over time is a challenge. One way of measuring cohesion is through direct interactions between individuals. However, there is increasing evidence that associations between individuals can be mediated by others, and thus, that the drivers for group cohesion extend beyond direct individual interactions. We use dynamic community detection, allowing to relate individuals beyond direct contacts, both structurally and temporally, to study the social structure in a long-term study of a population of free-ranging house mice in a barn in Switzerland. During the 2-year study period, mice had unlimited access to food, and population density increased by 50%. Despite strong fluctuations in individual contact behaviour, population demography and structure embed into long-lived dynamic communities that are characterised by spatial fidelity, persist over several seasons and reproduction cycles, and considerably extend the life-span of single individuals. Within these multi-male and multi-female communities, seasonal changes strongly affect their structure, leading to fission-fusion like dynamics. We identify female-female interactions as the main driver for the longevity of these communities, a finding that contrasts with prior reports of the importance of a dominant male for the stability of a group. Moreover, males have a drastically shorter presence time in the study population and more often move between communities than females. Nevertheless, interacting with other breeding males in stable communities increases the duration of male presence and thus, potentially, reproductive success. Our analysis of contact patterns in a rodent that uses shelters to rest, hide and rear offspring emphasises the importance of female-bonded communities in the structuring of the population.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:26 February 2020
Deposited On:16 Feb 2021 14:10
Last Modified:16 Feb 2021 14:10
Series Name:arXiv.org
ISSN:2331-8422
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.02.24.963512
Related URLs:https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.02.24.963512v1
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID31003A_176114
  • : Project TitleCauses and consequences of social interactions in free-living female house mice (Mus musculus domesticus)

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