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Constructing a social-behavioral association network to study management impact on waterbird community ecology using digital video recording cameras

Citation

Rasool, Muhammad Awais; Lei, Guangchun (2021), Constructing a social-behavioral association network to study management impact on waterbird community ecology using digital video recording cameras, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.vmcvdncrt

Abstract

Studying social behavior and species associations in ecological communities is challenging because it is difficult to observe the interactions in the field. Animal behavior is especially difficult to observe when selection of habitat and activities are linked to energy costs of long-distance movement. Migrating communities tend to be resource specific and prefer environments that offer more suitability for coexisting in a shared space and time. Given the recent advances in digital technologies, digital video recording systems are gaining popularity in wildlife research and management. We used digital video recording cameras to study social interactions and species-habitat linkages for wintering waterbird communities in shared habitats. Examining over 8,640 hours of video footages, we built tetrapartite social behavioral association network of wintering waterbirds over habitat (n=5) selection events in sites with distinct management regimes. We analyzed these networks to identify hub species and species role in activity persistence, and to explore the effects of hydrological regime on these network characteristics. Although the differences in network attributes were not significant at treatment level (p = 0.297) in terms of network composition and keystone species composition, our results indicated that network attributes were significantly different (p = 0.000, r2 = 0.278) at habitat level. There were evidences suggesting that the habitat quality was better at the managed sites, where the formed networks had more species, more network nodes and edges, higher edge density, and stronger intra- and inter-species interactions. In addition, we also calculated the species interaction preference scores (SIPS) and behavioral interaction preference scores (BIPS) of each network. The results showed that species synchronize activities in shared space for temporal niche partitioning in order to avoid or minimize any potential competition for shared space. Our social network analysis (SNA) approach is likely to provide a practical use for ecosystem management and biodiversity conservation.

Funding

National Key Research and Development Program of China, Award: 2017YFC0405300