ABS 2022
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Social Information Transmission in California Ground Squirrels
Erin S. Person1, Chelsea A. Ortiz-Jimenez2, Miriam Lucking3, Eileen A. Lacey1, Jennifer E. Smith3. 1University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California, United States; 2University of California, Davis, Davis, California, United States; 3Mills College, Oakland, California, United States

The transmission of information between conspecifics is a major benefit of sociality that may help to explain why social networks exist and how they are structured. We evaluated the spread of information through the social network in a population of California ground squirrels in Contra Costa County, California. Specifically, we experimentally manipulated food resources by deploying “smart-feeders” consisting of a plate filled with sand and millet seed and surrounded by a radio-frequency identification (RFID) antenna that registered the identity of every individual that stepped onto the plate to feed as well as the time of arrival and duration of each visit to the plate. We deployed nine smart-feeders in fixed locations, but only one was randomly baited during each four-hour experimental period which ensured individuals had to explore to discover the food. Social interactions observed on or around each plate and during observation periods outside the experiment were used to generate social networks to determine if social network position impacted the order of discovery of the food resource.