2023 Author: Bryan Walter | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 22:24
Spotted hyena puppies
A group of American scientists have found that spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) form small tight-knit groups within large clans. Their specific feature is the establishment of close relations of cooperation between individuals, reminiscent of "friendship". Moreover, the inclusion of new members in the group is possible only if they are “friends of friends”. Work published in Ecology Letters.
Researchers used social network analysis and agent-based modeling techniques to analyze more than 50,000 social behavior observations of hyenas taken over 20 years in the Masai Maara Wildlife Sanctuary in southwestern Kenya.
Each hyena from the clan was presented as a node - a node in a social network. Each node formed links with other nodes on the network. Such connections could be joint hunting or pastime, recorded during a series of consecutive observations over a limited period of time in the wild. This allowed the creation of a number of consistent structural models of social organization in the clan. Combining all structural models into a single time sequence made it possible to track the social dynamics of the clan in the long term - over the course of all 20 years.
It turned out that the structure of the community in the clan is influenced by such factors as the individual characteristics of hyenas, including their gender and rank in the flock; natural conditions - the amount of heavy rain and the presence or lack of production. However, the decisive factor was the ability of hyenas to create cohesive groups within the clan. On social networks, they were presented in the form of tightly connected clusters, around several individuals, and inclusion in them could only occur if another individual had direct interaction with one or more hyenas already included in the cluster. It was these groups that determined the long-term social dynamics in the hyena community.
Hyenas have a complex social organization. On average, up to a hundred individuals live in a clan. It is headed by the most ferocious female queen. Each of the members of the clan has its own rank, while the rank of females with a low position is in any case higher than the rank of even the most "high-ranking" males. Individual members of the clan (mainly males) can be expelled and oppressed by their descendants. It is believed that the social relationships of hyenas are as complex as those of great apes, but the details of the structure of their relationship are still insufficiently understood.