Adolescence and the development of social behaviour in giraffes

Zoe Muller*, Innes C Cuthill, Stephen Harris

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
113 Downloads (Pure)


All mammals experience different life stages as they develop, each of which is characterised by particular physical and behavioural changes. Despite the emergence of sophisticated behaviour analysis techniques, the ways in which social behaviour varies by life stage, and how this is influenced by an individual’s sex, is relatively understudied in most social mammals other than primates and elephants. Understanding the social requirements of mammals should be a central and critical component to their conservation, captive management and welfare. Here, we apply social network analysis techniques to understand how social behaviour differs with life stage in the giraffe, a gregarious fission–fusion mammal. We studied two wild populations of giraffes in Kenya and found that adolescents have significantly stronger associations with adolescents of their own sex first and foremost, then adults of their own sex. Other associations were significantly lower than would be expected, or non-significant. Our results suggest that adolescence in both male and female giraffes shares similar features to adolescence in other social mammal species. We discuss how the application of such knowledge might improve the management and welfare of captive giraffes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number307
Number of pages11
JournalMammalian Biology
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2022


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