International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 721–736 | Cite as

Social Network Influences Decision Making During Collective Movements in Brown Lemurs (Eulemur fulvus fulvus)

  • Armand Jacobs
  • Cédric Sueur
  • Jean Louis Deneubourg
  • Odile Petit


Many animal species live as a group and must therefore move as such. Several authors have suggested that the mechanisms underlying collective movements in primate species appear to rely on complex cognitive skills, given their high level of cognitive abilities. However, recent studies have highlighted the fact that complex patterns do not necessarily imply complex mechanisms. We used a modeling approach to investigate the patterns of collective movement in a semi-free-ranging group of brown lemurs. We recorded via digital video cameras the order and joining latencies of the 11 individuals of the group during the departure time of spontaneous group movements. We then assessed whether mimetic mechanisms or the existence of a leader were underlying conditions for the joining process by testing 5 computer models relying respectively on 5 hypotheses: the independence of individuals, an anonymous mimetism, a mimetism according to kinship, a mimetism according to affiliation, and eventually the existence of a leader. We found that departure latencies, associations, and the order of individuals at departure time could all be explained by the mimetism according to affiliation model. Thus, an individual’s decision to join the collective movement or not depended on the decision taken by its preferred social partners. These results show the importance of social parameters in primate decision making and that the high cohesion displayed by the group members might not be constrained merely by ecological factors such as predation or foraging consideration.


Affiliation Agent-based model Decision making Eulemur fulvus Self-organization Social network 



We thank Pierre Ulrich, Marion Gaurivaud, and Laetitia Marechal for their help during this study, as well as the trainees: Mathieu Laparie, Antoine Wystrach, and Capucine Gallet. We also thank 2 anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. Armand Jacobs was funded by a grant from French Ministry for Higher Education and Research. Cédric Sueur was funded by the Wallonia Brussels International, the Franco-American Commission, and the Fyssen Foundation. Jean Louis Deneubourg is a research associate from the Belgian National Funds for Scientific Research.

Supplementary material

10764_2011_9497_MOESM1_ESM.doc (646 kb)
Esm 1 Social Network Influences Decision Making During Collective Movements in Brown Lemurs (Eulemur fulvus fulvus) (DOC 646 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Armand Jacobs
    • 1
    • 2
  • Cédric Sueur
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Jean Louis Deneubourg
    • 3
  • Odile Petit
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Université de Strasbourg, IPHCStrasbourgFrance
  2. 2.CNRS, UMR7178StrasbourgFrance
  3. 3.Service d’Ecologie SocialeUniversité Libre de BruxellesBrusselsBelgium
  4. 4.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA

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