Abstract # 26:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 18, 2015 12:50 PM-01:10 PM: (Cascade AJBCD) Oral Presentation


QUANTIFYING INFORMATION TRANSFER ACROSS SOCIAL NETWORKS: TOOLS, APPLICATIONS AND ECOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS

D. R. Farine1,2,3 and W. Hoppitt4
1Department of Anthropology, University of California Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA, 2Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, UK, 3Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama, 4Animal and Environment Research Group, Anglia Ruskin University, UK
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     The patterns of individuals’ social contacts can impact their fitness in a wide range of ways. One of the more challenging aspects when characterising the importance of network structure is to understand the impact it has on population processes, such as the spread of information. If information relies on inter-individual contacts in order to be transmitted, then this can have widespread implications for who will have access to it, how fast it spreads, and, ultimately, what information is successfully transmitted. I will introduce Network-based diffusion analysis (NBDA), a powerful method for quantifying rates and patterns of information transfer through social networks. I will illustrate this with examples of NBDA being applied in a range of systems to investigate the transfer of information ranging from the location of ephemeral food sources to novel foraging techniques and tool use. I will then discuss the different variants of NBDA that have recently been developed that vastly increase the power of this method for hypothesis testing. Finally, I will discuss ecological implications information transfer, such as its potential feedback on social network structure, and the effect of network structure on the rise and fall of different pieces of information.