Unraveling fission-fusion dynamics: How subgroup properties and dyadic interactions influence individual decisions

Gabriel Ramos-Fernández, Juan M. Morales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations


Many species show fission-fusion group dynamics because it has clear advantages for flexibly exploiting heterogeneous environments. However, the mechanisms by which these dynamics arise are not well known. We used a hierarchical Bayesian model to disentangle the different influences on spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) individual fissions and fusions, including the three dimensions of fission-fusion dynamics (subgroup size, dispersion, and composition). Furthermore, we considered the influences of other individuals also leaving or joining a subgroup at the same time. We found that the most important influence on individual fissions and fusions is whether other individuals are also doing the same. Subgroup size and dispersion did not have clear effects on the probability that an individual fissioned or fusioned, while individuals tended to leave subgroups that were biased toward the opposite sex and to join subgroups that were biased toward their own sex. The networks constructed by the inter-individual influences during fissions and fusions were cohesive and did not show assortativity by sex or by degree. Individuals had a similar degree in both networks and each was influenced by a different set of individuals, suggesting a high fluidity in the social networks. We suggest that these networks reflect the way in which information about the environment flows as individuals follow one another during fissions and fusions. © 2014 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1225-1235
Number of pages11
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014

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