Lauren J.N. Brent

Lauren J.N. Brent
University of Exeter | UoE · Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour

PhD

About

89
Publications
18,569
Reads
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2,971
Citations
Citations since 2016
58 Research Items
2501 Citations
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400
Introduction
My research examines the evolution of social behaviour, with interests in social networks, social bonds, life-history, and cooperation. I am a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow and Lecturer in Animal Behaviour at the University of Exeter. I am also the curator of PrimatologyTree, the academic social network of the study of primates. Follow this link to add yourself to the Tree: http://academictree.org/primate/index.php
Additional affiliations
February 2014 - January 2016
University of Exeter
Position
  • Research Associate
February 2006 - February 2010
University of Roehampton
Position
  • PhD Student
September 2003 - September 2005
The University of Calgary
Position
  • Master's Student
Education
May 2006 - February 2010

Publications

Publications (89)
Article
Full-text available
Classic life-history theory predicts that menopause should not occur because there should be no selection for survival after the cessation of reproduction [1]. Yet, human females routinely live 30 years after they have stopped reproducing [2]. Only two other species-killer whales (Orcinus orca) and short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhync...
Article
Friend of a friend relationships, or the indirect connections between people, influence our health, well-being, financial success and reproductive output. As with humans, social behaviours in other animals often occur within a broad interconnected network of social ties. Yet studies of animal social behaviour tend to focus on associations between p...
Article
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There is growing evidence that behavioral tendencies, or “personalities,” in animals are an important aspect of their biology, yet their evolutionary basis is poorly understood. Specifically, how individual variation in personality arises and is subsequently maintained by selection remains unclear. To address this gap, studies of personality requir...
Article
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Sociality is believed to have evolved as a strategy for animals to cope with their environments. Yet the genetic basis of sociality remains unclear. Here we provide evidence that social network tendencies are heritable in a gregarious primate. The tendency for rhesus macaques, Macaca mulatta, to be tied affiliatively to others via connections media...
Article
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Social structure emerges from the patterning of interactions between individuals and plays a critical role in shaping some of the main characteristics of animal populations. The topological features of social structure, such as the extent to which individuals interact in clusters, can influence many biologically important factors, including the per...
Article
Accumulating evidence in humans and other mammals suggests older individuals tend to have smaller social networks. Uncovering the cause of these declines can inform how changes in social relationships with age affect health and fitness in later life. While age-based declines in social networks have been thought to be detrimental, physical and physi...
Article
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Aging is accompanied by a host of social and biological changes that correlate with behavior, cognitive health and susceptibility to neurodegenerative disease. To understand trajectories of brain aging in a primate, we generated a multiregion bulk (N = 527 samples) and single-nucleus (N = 24 samples) brain transcriptional dataset encompassing 15 br...
Preprint
We present a user-friendly R package for fitting BISoN models and conducting a wide variety of social network analyses. The package uses a formula-based syntax that will be familiar to R users, and a single core function for fitting edge models that we hope will be accessible to practitioners. We hope our R package will facilitate wider adoption of...
Article
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The non-independence of social network data is a cause for concern among behavioural ecologists conducting social network analysis. This has led to the adoption of several permutation-based methods for testing common hypotheses. One of the most common types of analysis is nodal regression, where the relationships between node-level network metrics...
Preprint
Humans exhibit sex differences in the prevalence of many neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative conditions. To better understand the translatability of a critical nonhuman primate model, the rhesus macaque, we generated one of the largest multi-brain region bulk transcriptional datasets for this species and characterized sex-biased gene expressio...
Article
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Identifying biomarkers of age-related changes in immune system functioning that can be measured non-invasively is a significant step in progressing research on immunosenescence and inflammaging in free-ranging and wild animal populations. In the present study, we aimed to investigate the suitability of two urinary compounds, neopterin and suPAR, as...
Article
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Sociality has been linked to a longer lifespan in many mammals, including humans. Yet how sociality results in survival benefits remains unclear. Using 10 years of data and over 1000 recorded injuries in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta), we tested two injury-related mechanisms by which social status and affiliative partners might influence survival...
Article
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The ultimate payoff of behaviours depends not only on their direct impact on an individual, but also on the impact on their relatives. Local relatedness—the average relatedness of an individual to their social environment—therefore has profound effects on social and life history evolution. Recent work has begun to show that local relatedness has th...
Article
Gut microbial communities are shaped by a myriad of extrinsic factors, including diet and the environment. Although distinct human populations consistently exhibit different gut microbiome compositions, variation in diet and environmental factors are almost always coupled, making it difficult to disentangle their relative contributions to shaping t...
Preprint
Ageing affects many phenotypic traits, but its consequences for social behaviour have only recently become apparent. Social networks emerge from associations between individuals. The changes in sociality that occur as individuals get older are thus likely to impact network structure, yet this remains unstudied. Here we use empirical data from free-...
Preprint
Purpose Rhesus macaques ( Macaca mulatta ) are the premier nonhuman primate model for studying human health and disease. We aimed to investigate if age was associated with ocular features of clinical relevance in a large cohort of free-ranging rhesus macaques from Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico. Methods We evaluated 120 rhesus macaques (73 males, 47 f...
Preprint
Datastream permutations are commonly used to test null hypotheses in animal social network analysis. Permutation methods are inherently stochastic and, like all stochastic processes, can be unreliable if appropriate diagnostic procedures aren't employed. Though datastream permutations are widely used in behavioural ecology, sufficient diagnostic ch...
Preprint
Accumulating evidence in humans and other mammals suggests older individuals tend to have smaller social networks. Uncovering the cause of these declines is important as it can inform how changes in social relationships with age might affect health and fitness in later life. Smaller social networks might be detrimental, but may also be the result o...
Article
Reproduction and survival in most primate species reflects management of both competitive and cooperative relationships. Here, we investigated the links between neuroanatomy and sociality in free-ranging rhesus macaques. In adults, the number of social partners predicted the volume of the mid-superior temporal sulcus and ventral-dysgranular insula,...
Preprint
Full-text available
Affiliative social relationships and high social status predict longer lifespans in many mammal species, including humans. Yet, the mechanisms by which these components of sociality influence survival are still largely unknown. Using 10 years of long-term data on the incidence of injuries in a free-ranging population of rhesus macaques ( Macaca mul...
Article
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Reciprocity is a prominent explanation for cooperation between non-kin. Studies designed to demonstrate reciprocity often focus on direct reciprocity in the timescale of minutes to hours, whereas alternative mechanisms like generalized reciprocity and the possibility of reciprocation over longer timescales of months and years are less often explore...
Article
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Social interactions help group-living organisms cope with socio-environmental challenges and are central to survival and reproductive success. Recent research has shown that social behaviour and relationships can change across the lifespan, a phenomenon referred to as ‘social ageing’. Given the importance of social integration for health and well-b...
Article
Male armaments are hypothesized to have evolved under intrasexual selection. Such traits may function as signals, weapons, or both, in male–male mating competition. Primate sexually dimorphic canine teeth and body size are two potentially weaponized traits whose function as a signal and/or weapon remains unclear, largely due to the difficulty of co...
Article
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Significance Survivors of extreme adverse events, including natural disasters, often exhibit chronic inflammation and early onset of age-related diseases. Adversity may therefore accelerate aging via the immune system, which is sensitive to lived experiences. We tested if experiencing a hurricane was associated with immune gene expression in a popu...
Article
Males in many large mammal species spend a considerable portion of their lives in all-male groups segregated from females. In long-lived species, these all-male groups may contain individuals of vastly different ages, providing the possibility that behaviours such as aggression vary with the age demographic of the social environment, as well as an...
Preprint
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Social networks are often constructed from point estimates of edge weights. In many contexts, edge weights are inferred from observational data, and the uncertainty around estimates can be affected by various factors. Though this has been acknowledged in previous work, methods that explicitly quantify uncertainty in edge weights have not yet been w...
Article
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Extreme adverse events such as natural disasters can accelerate disease progression and promote chronic inflammation. These phenotypes also increase in prevalence with age, suggesting that experiencing adversity might accelerate aging of the immune system. Adversity can induce persistent gene regulatory changes which may mechanistically explain the...
Article
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Significant hallmarks of aging are immune function decline and rising cumulative inflammation. These immunosenescent signatures are also found in individuals who experience chronic social adversity, independently of age. However, no studies to date have examined how social adversity alters immune function across the lifespan –data that are essentia...
Preprint
Full-text available
Aging results in declines in immune function and increases in inflammation, which underlie many age-related diseases. These immunosenescent signatures are similar to those seen in individuals exposed to social adversity, who may age more rapidly than those unexposed. Yet, it is unclear how social adversity alters immunity across demographic factors...
Article
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Social integration and social status can substantially affect an individual's health and survival. One route through which this occurs is by altering immune function, which can be highly sensitive to changes in the social environment. However, we currently have limited understanding of how sociality influences markers of immunity in naturalistic po...
Article
1. Power analysis is used to estimate the probability of correctly rejecting a null hypothesis for a given statistical model and dataset. Conventional power analyses assume complete information, but the stochastic nature of behavioural sampling can mean that true and estimated networks are poorly correlated. Power analyses do not currently take the...
Article
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A common behavioural interaction between male African elephants is for an actor to direct his trunk to contact a same sex conspecific’s mouth, temporal gland, or genital region. Such behaviours are often referred to as “greetings”. Along with its inherent tactile element, these behaviours also likely provide olfactory information to actors concerni...
Article
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When group-living animals develop individualized social relationships, they often regulate cooperation and conflict through a dominance hierarchy. Female common vampire bats have been an experimental system for studying cooperative relationships, yet surprisingly little is known about female conflict. Here, we recorded the outcomes of 1023 competit...
Preprint
Full-text available
The non-independence of social network data is a cause for concern among behavioural ecologists conducting social network analysis. This has led to the adoption of several permutation-based methods for testing common hypotheses. One of the most common types of analysis is nodal regression, where the relationships between node-level network metrics...
Article
When animals move along well-established pathways, sensory cues along the path may provide valuable information concerning other individuals that have used the same route. Yet the extent to which animals use pathways as sources of public social information is poorly understood. Here we quantified the responses of wild African savannah elephants, Lo...
Preprint
Power analysis is used to estimate the probability of correctly rejecting a null hypothesis for a given statistical model and dataset. Conventional power analyses assume complete information, but the stochastic nature of behavioural sampling can mean that true and estimated networks are poorly correlated. Power analyses of animal social networks do...
Article
Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of weather-related disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and droughts. Understanding resilience and vulnerability to these intense stressors and their aftermath could reveal adaptations to extreme environmental change. In 2017, Puerto Rico suffered its worst natural disaster, Hurri...
Article
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Social adversity can impact immune function and is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Many of these immune-related changes resemble the effects of the natural aging process. To date, little is known about the effects of social adversity on the immune system change across the lifetime. Here, we investigated how aging and social adver...
Article
Research in the basic biology of ageing is increasingly identifying mechanisms and modifiers of ageing in short-lived organisms such as worms and mice. The ultimate goal of such work is to improve human health, particularly in the growing segment of the population surviving into old age. Thus far, few interventions have robustly transcended species...
Article
Full-text available
Social network methods have become a key tool for describing, modelling and testing hypotheses about the social structures of animals. However, due to the non-independence of network data and the presence of confounds, specialised statistical techniques are often needed to test hypotheses in these networks. Datastream permutations, originally devel...
Article
Full-text available
In long-lived social species, older individuals can provide fitness benefits to their groupmates through the imparting of ecological knowledge. Research in this area has largely focused on females in matrilineal societies where, for example, older female African savannah elephants (Loxodonta africana) are most effective at making decisions crucial...
Article
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Social complexity reflects the intricate patterns of social interactions in societies. Understanding social complexity is fundamental for studying the evolution of diverse social systems and the cognitive innovations used to cope with the demands of social life. Social complexity has been predominantly quantified by social unit size, but newer meas...
Preprint
Full-text available
Social network methods have become a key tool for describing, modelling, and testing hypotheses about the social structures of animals. However, due to the non-independence of network data and the presence of confounds, specialized statistical techniques are often needed to test hypotheses in these networks. Datastream permutations, originally deve...
Article
Full-text available
Sexual selection favours traits that increase reproductive success via increased competitive ability, attractiveness, or both. Male rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) morphological traits are likely to reflect the effects of multiple sexual selection pressures. Here, we use a quantitative genetic approach to investigate the production and maintenance...
Article
Many species use social interactions to cope with challenges in their environment and a growing number of studies show that individuals which are well-connected to their group have higher fitness than socially isolated individuals. However, there are many ways to be 'well-connected' and it is unclear which aspects of sociality drive fitness benefit...
Article
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The neuropeptides oxytocin (OT) and arginine vasopressin (AVP) influence pair bonding, attachment, and sociality, as well as anxiety and stress responses in humans and other mammals. The effects of these peptides are mediated by genetic variability in their associated receptors, OXTR and the AVPR gene family. However, the role of these genes in reg...
Chapter
Popular and scientific interest in menopause in humans has led to an increased interest in the extent of post-fertile life in other animals, particularly in long-lived social species such as other primates and cetaceans. Information on maximum lifespan achieved and age at last birth are available from long-term observations of known individuals fro...
Article
Full-text available
Individuals who are well integrated into society have greater access to resources and tend to live longer. Why some individuals are socially isolated and others are not is therefore puzzling from an evolutionary perspective. Answering this question requires establishing the mix of intrinsic and contextual factors that contribute to social isolation...
Article
Animal societies are often structurally complex. How individuals are positioned within the wider social network (i.e. their indirect social connections) has been shown to be repeatable, heritable and related to key life-history variables. Yet, there remains a general lack of understanding surrounding how complex network positions arise, whether the...
Article
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Understanding cumulative effects of multiple threats is key to guiding effective management to conserve endangered species. The critically endangered, Southern Resident killer whale population of the northeastern Pacific Ocean provides a data-rich case to explore anthropogenic threats on population viability. Primary threats include: limitation of...
Article
Network dynamics can reveal information about the adaptive function of social behaviour and the extent to which social relationships can flexibly respond to extrinsic pressures. Changes in social networks occur following changes to the social and physical environment. By contrast, we have limited understanding of whether changes in social networks...
Article
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Investigating the biological bases of social phenotypes is challenging because social behavior is both high-dimensional and richly structured, and biological factors are more likely to influence complex patterns of behavior rather than any single behavior in isolation. The space of all possible patterns of interactions among behaviors is too large...
Article
Two decades of research suggest social relationships have a common evolutionary basis in humans and other gregarious mammals. Critical to the support of this idea is growing evidence that mortality is influenced by social integration, but when these effects emerge and how long they last is mostly unknown. Here, we report in adult female macaques th...
Article
Full-text available
Why females of some species cease ovulation prior to the end of their natural lifespan is a long-standing evolutionary puzzle [1, 2, 3, 4]. The fitness benefits of post-reproductive helping could in principle select for menopause [1, 2, 5], but the magnitude of these benefits appears insufficient to explain the timing of menopause [6, 7, 8]. Recent...
Article
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Robeck et al. (2015) claim that reproductive and actuarial senescence is common in mammalian species and therefore not an unexpected finding in killer whales. However, in most mammals, reproductive and somatic senescence are aligned, and reproduction gradually declines with age. In contrast, there is a substantial evidence that reproductive senesce...