Elefanten vererben Chefrolle

„Obwohl Wilderer in Afrika Elefantengruppen immer wieder dezimieren, haben die Tiere ihre komplexen sozialen Netzwerke bewahrt. Das liegt vor allem daran, dass die Töchter getöteter Leitkühe häufig die Führung übernehmen, berichten Forscher im Fachmagazin „Current Biology“. Immer wieder habe sich gezeigt, dass die Gruppenstruktur wider Erwarten nicht zusammenbreche, wenn die erfahrenen Weibchen an der Spitze wegfielen.“

Bildnachweis: Current Biology Coverfoto, Foto: Shifra Z. Goldenberg

in: Hamburger Abendblatt, 19.12.2015

 

Weitere Informationen:

Artikel zur Studie „Vertical Transmission of Social Roles Drives Resilience to Poaching in Elephant Networks“ von Shifra Z. GoldenbergIain Douglas-Hamilton und George Wittemyer

Summary: „Network resilience to perturbation is fundamental to functionality in systems ranging from synthetic communication networks to evolved social organization [ 1 ]. While theoretical work offers insight into causes of network robustness, examination of natural networks can identify evolved mechanisms of resilience and how they are related to the selective pressures driving structure. Female African elephants (Loxodonta africana) exhibit complex social networks with node heterogeneity in which older individuals serve as connectivity hubs [ 2, 3 ]. Recent ivory poaching targeting older elephants in a well-studied population has mirrored the targeted removal of highly connected nodes in the theoretical literature that leads to structural collapse [ 4, 5 ]. Here we tested the response of this natural network to selective knockouts. We find that the hierarchical network topology characteristic of elephant societies was highly conserved across the 16-year study despite ∼70% turnover in individual composition of the population. At a population level, the oldest available individuals persisted to fill socially central positions in the network. For analyses using known mother-daughter pairs, social positions of daughters during the disrupted period were predicted by those of their mothers in years prior, were unrelated to individual histories of family mortality, and were actively built. As such, daughters replicated the social network roles of their mothers, driving the observed network resilience. Our study provides a rare bridge between network theory and an evolved system, demonstrating social redundancy to be the mechanism by which resilience to perturbation occurred in this socially advanced species.“

Bildnachweis (Titel): Andre Freitas / Unsplash

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