The multilevel society of a small-brained bird

Danai Papageorgiou*, Charlotte Christensen, Gabriella E.C. Gall, James A. Klarevas-Irby, Brendah Nyaguthii, Iain D. Couzin, Damien R. Farine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review


Animal societies can be organised in multiple hierarchical tiers [1]. Such multilevel societies, where stable groups move together through the landscape, overlapping and associating preferentially with specific other groups, are thought to represent one of the most complex forms of social structure in vertebrates. For example, hamadryas baboons (Papio hamadryas) live in units consisting of one male and one or several females, or of several solitary males, that group into clans. These clans then come together with solitary bachelor males to form larger bands [2]. This social structure means that individuals have to track many different types of relationships at the same time [1,3]. Here, we provide detailed quantitative evidence for the presence of a multilevel society in a small-brained bird, the vulturine guineafowl (Acryllium vulturinum). We demonstrate that this species lives in large, multi-male, multi-female groups that associate preferentially with specific other groups, both during the day and at night-time communal roosts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R1120-R1121
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number21
StatePublished - 4 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


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