Zebras and giraffes walking. Photo by Kirsty Lucas.
Zebras and giraffes walking. Photo by Kirsty Lucas.

The recent focus on the study of animal social networks has led to some fundamental new insights. These have spanned across fields in ecology and evolution, ranging from epidemiology and learning through to evolution and conservation. Whilst network analysis has been used to address questions about sociality, food webs, bipartite networks and more over the past decade it is now extending into a wider variety of fields such as network interconnection and the link between gene networks and the expression of adaptive behaviours.

Graph theoreticians and biologists also are continuously developing novel network analytical approaches, opening new avenues of study and thereby extending our knowledge on many biological aspects of animal behaviour and interactions. This synergy between the development of new techniques and their application within a wider diversity of disciplines and animal models is providing a solid framework for studying animal sociality. However, as with all new research directions, growing knowledge has come with many new questions and new analytical challenges.

Here at Methods in Ecology & Evolution and the Journal of Animal Ecology we are excited by the new directions that the next decade of research into animal social networks will bring. We hope to encourage new advances in the study of animal social networks by calling for high-quality papers for a cross-journal Special Feature on animal social networks. The aim of this Special Feature is to bring together researchers from different fields and working with a diversity of biological models to showcase new network techniques and how they are integrated into general analytical frameworks.

The Special Feature is intended to provide the readership with a cross-disciplinary overview of state-of-the-art tools for network analyses in animal research and promote their application and new development for the decades to come. It was proposed by Sebastian Sosa, Mathieu Lihoreau, David Jacoby and Cédric Sueur.

Social network visualization. Photo by Martin Grandjean CC-SA.
Social network visualization. Photo by Martin Grandjean CC-SA.

We are soliciting original research capturing novel methodological developments or applications of social network theory to new empirical questions. These papers should address outstanding questions in fields that include (but are not restricted to) evolutionary ecology, behavioural ecology, disease and parasite biology, wildlife conservation, and theory.

Joint Special Feature Details

Manuscripts should be submitted in the usual way through the Journal of Animal Ecology or Methods in Ecology and Evolution websites. Submissions should clearly state in the cover letter accompanying the submission that you wish the manuscript to be considered for publication as part of this Special Feature. Pre-submission enquiries are not necessary, but any questions can be directed to: admin@journalofanimalecology.org or coordinator@methodsinecologyandevolution.org

The deadline for submission is: Monday 26 August.

The NEW submission deadline is: Friday 27 September

Damien Farine and the Guest Editors have reviewed some areas of animal social network research that deserve particular attention.