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Data from: Temporal stability in a male African elephant social network

Cite this dataset

Murphy, Derek; Mumby, Hannah; Henley, Michelle (2019). Data from: Temporal stability in a male African elephant social network [Dataset]. Dryad.


Social animals live in complex and variable socio-ecological environments where individuals adapt their behaviour to local conditions. Recently, there have been calls for studies of animal social networks to take account of temporal dynamics in social relationships as these have implications for the spread of information and disease, group cohesion, and the drivers of sociality, and there is evidence that maintaining stable social relationships has fitness benefits. It has recently been recognised that male elephants form strong social bonds with other males. The nature of these relationships, and thus network structure, may vary over time in response to environmental conditions and as individuals age. Using social network analysis, we examine the stability of relationships and network centrality in a population of male African elephants. Our results suggest that males may maintain stable social relationships with others over time. Older males show greater stability in network centrality than younger males, suggesting younger males face uncertainty in transitioning to adult society. For elephants, where older individuals function as social repositories of knowledge, maintaining a social network underpinned by older males could be of particular importance.

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