Group living confers many benefits while simultaneously exposing group members to intense competition. An individual's rise to prominence within a group may conflict with the overall functioning of the group. There is therefore a complex and dynamic relationship between the behavioral displays that directly benefit an individual, the consequences of these actions for the community, and how they feed back on individual-level fitness. We used a network analysis approach to study the link between behavior, social stability, and steroid hormone levels in replicate communities of the cichlid fish, Astatotilapia burtoni, which live in social groups with a dominance hierarchy. We demonstrate that individual behavior can have direct and indirect effects on the behavior of others while also affecting group characteristics. Our results show that A. burtoni males form stable social networks, where dominant individuals act as hubs for social interactions. However, there was variation in the temporal stability in these networks, and this variation in stability impacted hormone levels. Dominant males had higher testosterone levels, however, the differences in testosterone levels between dominant and subordinate males were greatest in stable communities. In sum, our analyses provide novel insights into the processes by which individual and community properties interact.
- Social dominance