The Behavioural Ecology group shows how animal societies function by mapping social and communication networks. This provides fundamental understanding on how animals with different personalities are connected to each other, on how they affect their social environment and are in turn affected by their social environment.
Disturbance of social signals
The research also provides examples of how disturbance of social signals, via signal degradation or environmental noise, affects the information that is available in a communication network.
The understanding of direct and indirect relationships between animals can be profitably applied by wildlife managers and conservationists. For example, to preserve natural social groups of animals, to ensure that protected habitats are sufficiently large and non-fragmented and to make good decisions when re-introducing species into habitats from which they have disappeared.
These insights also can be applied to husbandry systems where animals are kept in large groups and where social interactions need to be determined to understand and improve animal welfare and prevent spread of unwanted behaviour.