Social networks in primates: smart and tolerant species have more efficient networks

Cristian Pasquaretta, Marine Leve, Nicolas Claidiere, Erica van de Waal, Andrew Whiten, Andrew J. J. MacIntosh, Marie Pele, Mackenzie L. Bergstrom, Christele Borgeaud, Sarah F. Brosnan, Margaret C. Crofoot, Linda M. Fedigan, Claudia Fichtel, Lydia M. Hopper, Mary Catherine Mareno, Odile Petit, Anna Viktoria Schnoell, Eugenia Polizzi di Sorrentino, Bernard Thierry, Barbara TiddiCedric Sueur*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)
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Network optimality has been described in genes, proteins and human communicative networks. In the latter, optimality leads to the efficient transmission of information with a minimum number of connections. Whilst studies show that differences in centrality exist in animal networks with central individuals having higher fitness, network efficiency has never been studied in animal groups. Here we studied 78 groups of primates (24 species). We found that group size and neocortex ratio were correlated with network efficiency. Centralisation (whether several individuals are central in the group) and modularity (how a group is clustered) had opposing effects on network efficiency, showing that tolerant species have more efficient networks. Such network properties affecting individual fitness could be shaped by natural selection. Our results are in accordance with the social brain and cultural intelligence hypotheses, which suggest that the importance of network efficiency and information flow through social learning relates to cognitive abilities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7600
Number of pages8
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2014


  • Group-size
  • Community structure
  • Decision-making
  • Neocortex size
  • Behavior
  • Brain
  • Consequences
  • Intelligence
  • Organization
  • Cooperation


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