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The Ecology of Information: Dr Alicia Carter

Information diffusion through social networks in wild baboons

The social network—the patterning of connections between individuals in a group—is likely to be of great importance in understanding how individuals acquire and use social information to make decisions. This is because individuals may preferentially acquire information from those with whom they have strong social bonds through repeated interactions or frequently share close spatial proximity. However, rarely has it been considered which social relationships may be important in predicting the flow of information through a group.

In my current research, I investigated which network connections best predicted information flow in wild baboons, generating many videos of angry monkeys with which to entertain my audiences. My results suggest that (1) individuals’ social environments are important for their access to social information but that (2) individuals are limited by their phenotypes in whether and how they can use socially acquired information and (3) alternative social networks may influence the acquisition and use of social information.

Presented at Churchill College, 23rd October 2014.

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