A social network analysis of social cohesion in a constructed pride: Implications for ex situ reintroduction of the African Lion (Panthera leo)

Jackie Abell, M.W.B. Kirzinger, Y. Gordon, J. Kirk, R. Kokeŝ, K. Lynas, B. Mandinyenya, D. Youldon

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)
    41 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    Animal conservation practices include the grouping of captive related and unrelated individuals to form a social structure which is characteristic of that species in the wild. In response to the rapid decline of wild African lion (Panthera leo) populations, an array of conservational strategies have been adopted. Ex situ reintroduction of the African lion requires the construction of socially cohesive pride structures prior to wild release. This pilot study adopted a social network theory approach to quantitatively assess a captive pride's social structure and the relationships between individuals within them. Group composition (who is present in a group) and social interaction data (social licking, greeting, play) was observed and recorded to assess social cohesion within a released semi-wild pride. UCINET and SOCPROG software was utilised to represent and analyse these social networks. Results indicate that the pride is socially cohesive, does not exhibit random associations, and the role of socially influential keystone individuals is important for maintaining social bondedness within a lion pride. These results are potentially informative for the structure of lion prides, in captivity and in the wild, and could have implications for captive and wild-founder reintroductions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere82541
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Volume8
    Issue number12
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2013

    Bibliographical note

    This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ .

    Keywords

    • adult
    • animal behavior
    • article
    • cub
    • female
    • group dynamics
    • keystone species
    • male
    • nonhuman
    • Panthera
    • Panthera leo
    • pilot study
    • social bonding
    • social cohesion
    • social interaction
    • social network
    • social structure
    • species reintroduction

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