Poster presentation 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Social network structure of the African woodland dormouse Graphiurus murinus (#757)

Kim Madikiza 1 , Neville Pillay 1 , Emmanuel Do Linh San 2
  1. School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Braamfontein, Gauteng, South Africa
  2. Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Fort Hare, Alice, Eastern Cape, South Africa

We investigated the social structure of a free-living population of African woodland dormice Graphiurus murinus using association indices from, and social network analysis of, dyadic sleeping associations. The locations of 28 adult males, 31 adult females, and 21 juveniles were recorded over a 30 month period, using radio-tracking and 80 nest boxes. A total of 3238 locations (average = 40 per individual) were collected. Sixty-eight (85%) of the 80 dormice formed sleeping associations. A total of 496 sleeping associations between 112 dyads were recorded. The average Association Index (AI) was 15.05%. Male-male dyads (17.31%) had a significantly higher AI than male-female (11.72%) and female-female dyads (7.33%). AI was significantly negatively correlated with the number of simultaneous locations in male-female dyads, but not in female-female dyads, indicating that the latter were temporally more stable. Males (median 1.00; range 0–6) and females (1.00; 0–3) had a similar number of adult opposite-sex sleeping partners, and this number increased monotonically with the number of locations and the monitoring period. Social network analysis revealed a complex web (density = 5%; median degree ± interquartile range = 3.00 ± 4.00) of relatively even associations (edges) between adult males and females, with no significant intersexual difference in the five network metrics studied. Sleeping associations and the social network structure mirrored the social tendencies of African woodland dormice as well as the strong affinities between certain individuals. These affinities were sex-specific, likely relating to communal breeding, social huddling and the putative promiscuous mating strategies of the species.