Generation and applications of simulated datasets to integrate social network and demographic analyses

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Matthew Silk , Olivier Gimenez


Social networks are tied to population dynamics; interactions are driven by population density and demographic structure, while social relationships can be key determinants of survival and reproductive success. However, difficulties integrating models used in demography and network analysis have limited research at this interface. We introduce the R package genNetDem for simulating integrated network-demographic datasets. It can be used to create longitudinal social network and/or capture-recapture datasets with known properties. It incorporates the ability to generate populations and their social networks, generate grouping events using these networks, simulate social network effects on individual survival, and flexibly sample these longitudinal datasets of social associations. By generating co-capture data with known statistical relationships it provides functionality for methodological research. We demonstrate its use with case studies testing how imputation and sampling design influence the success of adding network traits to conventional Cormack-Jolly-Seber (CJS) models. We show that incorporating social network effects in CJS models generates qualitatively accurate results, but with downward-biased parameter estimates when network position influences survival. Biases are greater when fewer interactions are sampled or fewer individuals observed in each interaction. While our results indicate the potential of incorporating social effects within demographic models, they show that imputing missing network measures alone is insufficient to accurately estimate social effects on survival, pointing to the importance of incorporating network imputation approaches. genNetDem provides a flexible tool to aid these methodological advancements and help researchers testing other sampling considerations in social network studies.



Behavior and Ethology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Life Sciences, Population Biology


co-capture data, Demography, hidden Markov model, population dynamics, social networks, stochastic block model, survival


Published: 2022-07-27 10:17

Last Updated: 2023-01-10 21:30

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