Brown spider monkeys (Ateles hybridus) A model for differentiating the role of social networks and physical contact on parasite transmission dynamics
Elevated risk of disease transmission is considered a major cost of sociality, although empirical evidence supporting this idea remains scant. Variation in spatial cohesion and the occurrence of social interactions may have profound implications for patterns of interindividual parasite transmission. We used a social network approach to shed light on the importance of different aspects of group-living (i.e. within-group associations versus physical contact) on patterns of parasitism in a neotropical primate, the brown spider monkey (Ateles hybridus), which exhibits a high degree of fission fusion subgrouping. We used daily subgroup composition records to create a 'proximity' network, and built a separate 'contact' network using social interactions involving physical contact. In the proximity network, connectivity between individuals was homogeneous, whereas the contact network highlighted high between-individual variation in the extent to which animals had physical contact with others, which correlated with an individual's age and sex. The gastrointestinal parasite species richness of highly connected individuals was greater than that of less connected individuals in the contact network, but not in the proximity network. Our findings suggest that among brown spider monkeys, physical contact impacts the spread of several common parasites and supports the idea that pathogen transmission is one cost associated with social contact.
Rimbach, R., Bisanzio, D., Galvis, N., Link, A., Di Fiore, A., & Gillespie, T. R. (2015). Brown spider monkeys (Ateles hybridus): A model for differentiating the role of social networks and physical contact on parasite transmission dynamics. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, 370(1669), . https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2014.0110