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Fall 2016 GRASP Seminar: Erol Akcay, University of Pennsylvania, “Social Inheritance in Animal Social Networks and Its Consequences”

October 21, 2016 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm


The social network structure of animal populations has major implications for survival, reproductive success, sexual selection, and pathogen transmission of individuals. But as of yet, no process-based theory of social network structure exists that can explain the diversity of social networks observed in nature, and serve as a null model for detecting species and population-specific factors. In this talk, I will present a simple and generally applicable model of social network structure. In our model, network structure emerges from social inheritance, in which newborns are likely to bond with maternal contacts, and via forming bonds randomly. We compare model output to data from several species, showing that it can generate networks with properties such as those observed in real social systems. Our model demonstrates that important observed properties of social networks, including heritability of network position or assortative associations, can be understood as consequences of social inheritance. I will also present data from a long-term study on spotted hyenas in which we can quantify social inheritance directly.


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Erol Akcay is an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at Penn. His interests lie in the theory of social evolution in animals, plants, microbes, and humans. He got his undergraduate degrees in Physics and Biology at the Middle East Technical University in Turkey, and his Ph.D. at Stanford in Biological Sciences. He then did postdoctoral work at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis and Princeton University, before starting at Penn in 2014. More information about him and his research group can be found at: http://akcay.theoretical.bio/


October 21, 2016
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
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