A time-based method for defining associations using photo-identification

in Behaviour
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Photo-identification is an invaluable method for documenting associations. Based on the assumption that individuals photographed close together in time are physically close in space, the metadata associated with digital photography offers an opportunity to base association analyses on time between images. This was tested via analysis of associations within a population of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Doubtful Sound, New Zealand. We compared the widely used group-membership method and an alternative time-based method. Overall social structures between methods were similar; high degrees of association among all individuals and little support for sub-groups. Results also indicated an increase in the precision of pairwise indices for the time-based method. This study validated the approach of using time as a basis for analyses of associations. Importantly, this method can be retrospectively applied to any photo-ID data set in which images of uniquely identifiable individuals are time-stamped by the camera.

A time-based method for defining associations using photo-identification

in Behaviour

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Figures

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    Doubtful Sound, New Zealand.

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    (a) Cluster analysis using average-linkage method for the Doubtful Sound bottlenose dolphin population (N=63), using the HWI group membership method. Black dashes indicate individuals always seen together. Colours represent the three different sub-groups. Names of individuals have been removed for clarity of the plot. (b) Sub-groups were defined by the peak in the modularity coefficient.

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    Social network of the Doubtful Sound bottlenose dolphin population (N=63) using HWI based on group membership. Circles represent females, squares represent males and diamonds represent individuals of unknown gender. Colours represent sub-groups defined by the peak in the modularity. Individuals are plotted using non-metric MDS. Mother–offspring groups are arbitrarily indicated with dashed lines.

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    Stress values associated with non-metric MDS plots, and cophenetic correlation coefficient (c) values associated with cluster analysis outputs from SOCPROG, for the six sampling periods trialled. Bars are 95% confidence intervals from 20 runs of nm-MDS analyses per trialled sampling window. The arrow represents a compromise between low stress and high c, and was the sampling period used in further analyses.

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    (a) Cluster analysis using average-linkage method for the Doubtful Sound bottlenose dolphin population (N=63), using the HWI 2-min sampling period. Black dashes indicate individuals always seen together. Colours represent the three different sub-groups. Names of individuals have been removed for clarity of the plot. (b) Sub-groups were defined by the peak in the modularity coefficient.

  • View in gallery

    Social network of the Doubtful Sound bottlenose dolphin population (N=63) using HWI based on a 2-min sampling period. Circles represent females, squares represent males and diamonds represent individuals of unknown gender. Colours represent sub-groups defined by the peak in the modularity. Individuals are plotted using non-metric MDS. Mother–offspring groups are arbitrarily indicated with dashed lines.

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