Behavioural ecology at the spatial–social interface

Quinn M.R. Webber*, Gregory F. Albery*, Damien R. Farine, Noa Pinter-Wollman, Nitika Sharma, Orr Spiegel, Eric Vander Wal, Kezia Manlove

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Spatial and social behaviour are fundamental aspects of an animal's biology, and their social and spatial environments are indelibly linked through mutual causes and shared consequences. We define the ‘spatial–social interface’ as intersection of social and spatial aspects of individuals' phenotypes and environments. Behavioural variation at the spatial–social interface has implications for ecological and evolutionary processes including pathogen transmission, population dynamics, and the evolution of social systems. We link spatial and social processes through a foundation of shared theory, vocabulary, and methods. We provide examples and future directions for the integration of spatial and social behaviour and environments. We introduce key concepts and approaches that either implicitly or explicitly integrate social and spatial processes, for example, graph theory, density-dependent habitat selection, and niche specialization. Finally, we discuss how movement ecology helps link the spatial–social interface. Our review integrates social and spatial behavioural ecology and identifies testable hypotheses at the spatial–social interface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)868-886
Number of pages19
JournalBiological Reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2023


FundersFunder number
Bi-national Foundation
Bi‐national Foundation822/2019
National Science Foundation1414296
National Science Foundation
Utah State University
Utah Agricultural Experiment StationUTA01427
Utah Agricultural Experiment Station
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
European Research Council
Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen ForschungPCEFP3_187058
Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung
Iran National Science FoundationISF 396/20
Iran National Science Foundation
Horizon 2020850859
Horizon 2020


    • behavioural ecology
    • collective movement
    • ecological niche
    • social environment
    • social network
    • social niche
    • social phenotype
    • spatial environment
    • spatial phenotype


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