Multiyear social stability and social information use in reef sharks with diel fission–fusion dynamics

Yannis P. Papastamatiou* (Corresponding Author), Thomas W. Bodey, Jennifer E. Caselle, Darcy Bradley, Robin Freeman, Alan M. Friedlander, David M.P. Jacoby* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


Animals across vertebrate taxa form social communities and often exist as fission–fusion groups. Central place foragers (CPF) may form groups from which they will predictably disperse to forage, either individually or in smaller groups, before returning to fuse with the larger group. However, the function and stability of social associations in predatory fish acting as CPFs is unknown, as individuals do not need to return to a shelter yet show fidelity to core areas. Using dynamic social networks generated from acoustic tracking data, we document spatially structured sociality in CPF grey reef sharks at a Pacific Ocean atoll. We show that sharks form stable social groups over multiyear periods, with some dyadic associations consistent for up to 4 years. Groups primarily formed during the day, increasing in size throughout the morning before sharks dispersed from the reef at night. Our simulations suggest that multiple individuals sharing a central place and using social information while foraging (i.e. local enhancement) will outperform non-CPF social foragers. We show multiyear social stability in sharks and suggest that social foraging with information transfer could provide a generalizable mechanism for the emergence of sociality with group central place foraging.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20201063.
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society of London. B, Biological Sciences
Issue number1932
Early online date12 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2020


  • social network
  • local enhancement
  • central place foraging
  • shark
  • grey reef sharks
  • Sharks/physiology
  • Animals
  • Social Behavior
  • Ecosystem
  • Acoustics
  • Pacific Ocean
  • Coral Reefs


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