Franks, D.W., James, R., Noble, J. and Ruxton, G.D.
A foundation for developing a methodology for social network sampling
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 63, (7), . (doi:10.1007/s00265-009-0729-2).
Researchers are increasingly turning to network theory to understand the social nature of animal populations. We present a computational framework that is the first step in a series of works that will allow us to develop a quantitative methodology of social network sampling to aid ecologists in their social network data collection. To develop our methodology, we need to be able to generate networks from which to sample. Ideally, we need to perform a systematic study of sampling protocols on different known network structures, as network structure might affect the robustness of any particular sampling methodology. Thus, we present a computational tool for generating network structures that have user-defined distributions for network properties and for key measures of interest to ecologists. The user defines the values of these measures and the tool will generate appropriate network randomizations with those properties. This tool will be used as a framework for developing a sampling methodology, although we do not present a full methodology here. We describe the method used by the tool, demonstrate its effectiveness, and discuss how the tool can now be utilized. We provide a proof-of-concept example (using the assortativity measure) of how such networks can be used, along with a simulated egocentric sampling regime, to test the level of equivalence of the sampled network to the actual network.
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