Simon Kenworthy

Simon Kenworthy

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Simon Kenworthy

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Start Year

2020 (Cohort 7)

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PhD Project
PhD Title

The evolution of culture in heterogenous social networks.

Research Theme

Evolution and Adaptation

Primary Supervisor
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Secondary Supervisor
Secondary Institution



Social animals display some of the most complex and varied behaviours in the animal kingdom. These behaviours can differ between populations of the same species, much like human cultural traditions. Social network analysis (SNA) is a powerful tool that can reveal how social information regarding innovations or behavioural traditions spread within a group. However, SNAs often assume that all individuals are homogenous, ie. equal in their ability to acquire, apply and transmit social information but individual variation in these traits mean than individuals may differ in their ability to learn socially. Such individual heterogeneities could help explain patterns of variation in the spread and repertoire of cultural traditions, and speed of diffusion and adoption. This project will use individual-based SNA to investigate how heterogeneity within primate groups impacts social information flow and this the emergence/evolution of culture. Chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) within the Tsaobis Baboon Project will be used as our model systems, to which SNA models will be tested using 20 years of past data and field experiments. Conclusions generated from this project will be valuable for policy makers and inform conservation actors upon the likelihood of success of primate group reintroduction or translocation initiatives.

Policy Impact
Background Reading



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