Working Group

Large-scale demographic, network and behavioral trait analyses of sociality

PI(s): Jennifer Fewell (Arizona State University)
Dustin Rubenstein (Columbia University)
James H Hunt (North Carolina State Univerisity)
Start Date: 1-May-2011
End Date: 30-Apr-2013
Keywords: sociality, phylogenetics, meta-analysis, database

The recent NESCent catalysis meeting, Evolution of Insect Sociality: An Integrative Modeling Approach, was assembled to ask if novel approaches might be envisioned that could lead to a clearer understanding of the empirical and theoretical foundations of sociality. Here we propose an approach arising from that meeting that is truly novel: a data-first undertaking, unconstrained by a priori categories and concepts. Our goals are to: (1) assemble a database of social attributes across group-living taxa (currently no such database exists), (2) discover new classifications of sociality, broadly applicable across group-living animals, that emerge naturally from the data, (3) relate broad-scale data-based outcomes to existing classifications and theories of social evolution, and (4) deliver a data-based foundation for modeling social evolution and comparative studies by the community of social theorists and researchers. This social trait database will be the first of its kind, and provide a broadly integrative framework of social behaviors for further theoretical and data-based explorations in social biology.