Long-lasting, kin-directed female interactions in a spatially structured wild boar social network

Tomasz Podgórski, David Lusseau, Massimo Scandura, Leif Sönnichsen, Bogumiła Jędrzejewska

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Individuals can increase inclusive fitness benefits through a complex network of social interactions directed towards kin. Preferential relationships with relatives lead to the emergence of kin structures in the social system. Cohesive social groups of related individuals and female philopatry of wild boar create conditions for cooperation through kin selection and make the species a good biological model for studying kin structures. Yet, the role of kinship in shaping the social structure of wild boar populations is still poorly understood. In the present study, we investigated spatio-temporal patterns of associations and the social network structure of the wild boar Sus scrofa population in Białowieża National Park, Poland, which offered a unique opportunity to understand wild boar social interactions away from anthropogenic factors. We used a combination of telemetry data and genetic information to examine the impact of kinship on network cohesion and the strength of social bonds. Relatedness and spatial proximity between individuals were positively related to the strength of social bond. Consequently, the social network was spatially and genetically structured with well-defined and cohesive social units. However, spatial proximity between individuals could not entirely explain the association patterns and network structure. Genuine, kin-targeted, and temporarily stable relationships of females extended beyond spatial proximity between individuals while males interactions were short-lived and not shaped by relatedness. The findings of this study confirm the matrilineal nature of wild boar social structure and show how social preferences of individuals translate into an emergent socio-genetic population structure.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere99875
Number of pages11
JournalPloS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2014

Bibliographical note

We thank W. Jędrzejewski for his support and logistical help in trapping wild boar. We are grateful to R. Kozak, A. Waszkiewicz and many students and volunteers for their help with fieldwork as well as to A. N. Bunevich, T. Borowik and local hunters for providing genetic samples. Genetic analyses were performed in the laboratory of the Department of Science for Nature and Environmental Resources, University of Sassari, Italy, with the help of L. Iacolina and D. Biosa. We are grateful to K. O’Mahony who revised English and to A. Widdig, K. Langergraber and one anonymous reviewer for valuable comments on the earlier version of the manuscript.


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