Collective movement and social decision-making in the Vulturine Guineafowl (Acryllium vulturinum)

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2021
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Animals living in stable groups need to maintain cohesion while simultaneously acquiring resources critical for survival. Yet, little is known about how groups overcome the challenges of maintaining cohesion and making decisions when faced with heterogeneity in the environment. Heterogeneity can arise both spatially, e.g. based on how resources are distributed, and temporally, e.g. based on the seasonal variation in the spatial distribution and/or abundance of food and water. Groups themselves can also be heterogeneous, fluctuating in size and composition. For this thesis work, I studied multiple groups of vulturine guineafowl (Acryllium vulturinum) that range freely in the Kenyan savannah. I used a combination of data collection methods, including high-resolution GPS tracking, field observations of habituated and nonhabituated groups, video tracking and environmental data from meteorological stations. I first described the multilevel social structure of this species, in which stable groups comprising of multiple breeding units associate preferentially with specific other groups. Herewith, vulturine guineafowl is the first avian species discovered to live in a multilevel society, which was so far described for largebrained mammals. I then tested the effect of environmental and social drivers of collective movement. Groups used larger areas, travelled longer distances, and moved to new places more often during drier than wetter seasons. Further, I found an optimal group size for collective movement with groups of intermediate size expressing the largest home-range size, greater variation in space use and higher reproductive success, in comparison to large and small groups. Despite these emergent differences in group movement characteristics, vulturine guineafowl groups always followed a shared decision-making process, according to which all group members could contribute to decisions. Finally, I demonstrated the importance of shared decision-making for allowing groups to satisfy the needs of each group member, and thus enable groups to maintain cohesion even when faced with heterogeneous environments and individual differences in priority access to resources. By following a multi-scale approach 4 (within-groups, between-groups, population-level), I showed that the interaction between the social and the physical environment can shape both the outcomes and the micro-dynamics of collective behaviour in wild group-living animals.

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570 Biowissenschaften, Biologie
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collective behaviour, vulturine guineafowl, animal ecology, sociality
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ISO 690PAPAGEORGIOU, Danai, 2021. Collective movement and social decision-making in the Vulturine Guineafowl (Acryllium vulturinum) [Dissertation]. Konstanz: University of Konstanz
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@phdthesis{Papageorgiou2021Colle-55097,
  year={2021},
  title={Collective movement and social decision-making in the Vulturine Guineafowl (Acryllium vulturinum)},
  author={Papageorgiou, Danai},
  address={Konstanz},
  school={Universität Konstanz}
}
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June 28, 2021
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Konstanz, Univ., Diss., 2021
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