Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Animals use social information in a wide variety of contexts. Its extensive use by individuals to locate food patches has been documented in a number of species, and various mechanisms of discovery have been identified. However, less is known about whether individuals differ in their access to, and use of, social information to find food. We measured the social network of a wild population of three sympatric tit species (family Paridae) and then recorded individual discovery of novel food patches. By using recently developed methods for network-based diffusion analysis, we show that order of arrival at new food patches was predicted by social associations. Models based only on group searching did not explain this relationship. Furthermore, network position was correlated with likelihood of patch discovery, with central individuals more likely to locate and use novel foraging patches than those with limited social connections. These results demonstrate the utility of social network analysis as a method to investigate social information use, and suggest that the greater probability of receiving social information about new foraging patches confers a benefit on more socially connected individuals.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc Biol Sci

Publication Date





4199 - 4205


Animal Communication, Animals, Feeding Behavior, Linear Models, Models, Theoretical, Social Behavior, Songbirds